Monday, March 29, 2010

When It's Time to Go, It's Time to Go

"Make hay while the sun shines" is the motto of every farmer. When it's raining, snowy, or just extremely muddy, you are able to sit back and relax...well at least that’s what I like to pretend what the farmers who don't have cattle do.....but as for us, we cattle so no matter what the weather is like we still have something to do. In the winter time, especially when snow is on the ground cattle come first, but when the ground dries out enough to where you can start "working" the ground, as we say, then the cattle are put on the back burner, well kinda. (Working ground is kinda like tilling a garden it's just on a larger scale and with all different kinds of tillage equipment.) When I say put on the back burner, I mean that I get to do all our chores and all of the cattle chores for Caleb’s dad. This is on top of running around doing any thing else that needed to keep the tractors in the field. Oh and I am suppose to fix dinner (or lunch....whatever you call it) in there somewhere. Luckily I have a great mother-in-law, who if I call her she will throw a couple more burgers in the pan for Caleb and I.

So here's kinda a run down of what my day entailed of that Friday before the incoming snow storm... 
Wake up, look out the front window and see a beautiful foggy sunrise out my front window.  

First things first I get something in my belly and get some snacks for later cause if I don't I will be a bear...don't believe me ask Caleb and then read my former post about the situation.  
 After taking care of the most important thing (me and my belly) I then head to my first assignment. Go and give the cattle right there at our house a bale of hay. Somewhere in the middle of this I received a call from the "boss man" (aka Caleb) telling me my next order of business. I am to bring the truck carrying the diesel know the one that is chained on using the chain I need to drag stinky away with (if you haven't read about this one you need to cause it's a hoot!)......anyways back to the job at hand. I am to take the truck over to the field where they are working and fill tractors up with fuel so they can run all day in hopes to get as much done as possible before the crazy snow.

As you can see we don't have an fancy-smacy handle for our fuel, so unless you want to stand there and hold the fuel nozzle while 75 to 100 gallons of fuel shoots into the tractor, ya need to find something to hold it for you so you can do other important things, like eat. Pliers work great for this job and any good farmer would have a pair strapped to their side so they are usually easy to get a hold of.....unless they are like my husband who "misplaces" as he tells other words he's lost them again.
 So while that is filling I thought I would show you what else was going on in this field. Here's Calvin in his chariot for the day. He's pretty much in this beastie from sun-up to sundown or until he runs out of anhydrous. This beast is crazy long.  

We only put anhydrous (or anhydrous ammonia as it's more formally called) in the ground when we are planting corn on that farm, it is our major source nitrogen for the corn. This is a very dangerous process. That white cloud you see is some very nasty stuff. You want to make sure when working with anhydrous to always be extra careful. A little whiff of it won't hurt you, but if you were to inhale a lot of it it could kill you. This stuff stinks to high heaven....if you have ever had a perm it kinda smells like some of the junk they put on your hair, only a million times worse!
Along with anhydrous, we also 'throw' some phosphorus and potassium on to the fields before working the ground. 
Ok so the tractor is still filling with fuel so smile for me.....
... and take a pic of me too. Ok, now that the tractors are fueled up and ready to go it's time to get to business.
So Caleb hops into his chariot and starts spreading the dry fertilizer.
 Every once in a while he has to get out and see how much fertilizer is left in the spreader.
He would also go and checkto make sure the spreader was working correctly. At this time i was told to forget about the cattle for now, cause I was needed for more important things. 
 I was to start disking until the hired man was able to take over, but luckily I wasn't alone in the field.  
I was followed around for about 30 min to an hour by a flock of seagulls...not the group, the actual birds. I wasn't exactly expecting to see these crazy birds in the middle of Southeast Kansas. They are kinda funny birds and would follow the tractor around and snatch up worms as the soil would get over turned. 
I was told I would only be in here for about an hour.....make that 4-5 hours. A little longer than I was told, but you gotta do what ya gotta do.  
Well finally, the hired guy comes and takes over for me and I get to head on and finish up the rest of the cattle chores....which entails checking all of our cattle as well as feeding Calvin's calves....of course not without a couple of hiccups. While feeding Calvin’s calves I notice a rather large addition to the group....the neighbor’s bull. Who the day before was also in the pasture with them. Well on the previous day Caleb was able to come and help me get the guy into the holding pen, but that wasn't the case on this day.....but luckily I was able to easily chase him a couple of calves in the holding pen where they had to stay until someone had time to mess with them, cause I had enough other things to do.

After I had finished almost all the chores I head towards home, checking our last group of cattle on the way. By now the clouds have rolled in and the wind has switched from the south to the north. About the time I get to the house I remember that I need to feed our replacement heifers some feed as well as give them a bale of hay. So I jump back in the chore truck and make the 10 minute trip up to where are heifers are get them fed and then head back home where I am so very ready to crash! Seriously I’m soo ready for a vacation!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Easy Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

I love pasta, epically spaghetti it's my favorite!! And for the longest time I always used the spaghetti sauce that was in the jars. I would brown the hamburger and just dump it in. Then one day I was talking to my sis and she said she always made her own. I asked what she used and I took it and put my own spin on it, which wasn't really much of a spin at all. I know some of you might be thinking it's just so easy to use the jar stuff, ya just dump and go, but seriously it's really easy to make your own and it really doesn't take much if any longer and it's soo much better!!! Needless to say I stopped using the jar stuff and never looked back.
Meet the Members: Ground beef, tomato sauce, mushrooms, salt (ya don't have to use Kosher salt, it's what I had there to take a picture of, regular salt works just as good!), pepper, Italian seasoning, parsley flakes, garlic, and spaghetti.
First things first, ya need to brown your hamburger. I started using my Dutch oven cause I don't seem to make near as much of a mess with it. 
Something I use to make the hamburger gook faster is water.
I add about 3/4 cup of water strait to the pot or pan....which ever I’m cooking in. For the most part the water steams the meat; it also helps to drain the grease better, when it's done cooking.
I crumble up the hamburger and get as much as I can touching the surface of the pan.
Next place the lid on the pot, this hold the heat in and makes the meat cook faster.
You are cooking the spaghetti aren't you??? Well if you’re not then you should be, so put a pot of water on the stove and start cooking it!
After a few minutes take the lid off the hamburger and turn it over with a spatula and chop it up in to smaller pieces as you are doing this. Cover it once again and allow it to cook more. Repeat this as much as you need to till the meat is fully cooked.
While the meat is cooking you can go a head and chop the garlic up. A hint for getting the skin off the garlic, take the side of the knife and squash it. That's right just flatten it. After you do this the skin will come off with out a problem.
Once you have the garlic peeled, mince it (or chop it up as small as you can).
By now the meat has probably finished cooking, so drain all the excess water and grease off and return the pan to the stove.
See how easy that stuff drains off. After this cools off take it out and give it to your dog. They will fall madly in love with you and will be your friend for life!!
Once your meat is back on the stove turn the heat down to about half way between low and medium and add two cans of tomato sauce to it.
After you have emptied as much as you can from the two cans fill one of them with water and then dump it back and forth between the two cans a couple of times until you have cleaned out both cans. Now dump that watery tomato sauce mixture in to the pan as well.
Now go a head a stir it all together.
Now throw in the garlic you chopped earlier and mix it in. Now you don't have to use fresh garlic if you don't want to or if you don't have it. You can always use garlic salt instead. It will be just as good.  I personally like chomping down on those fresh chunks when I'm eating it.
Now stir in about 1 tsp of salt.  If you are using garlic salt skip this cause it will way too salty.
Now add some mushrooms.  I only add about half the can, but that's because my husband wouldn't go for any more mushrooms than this in the sauce.  You however can add as much as you little heart desires!
Finally add the Italian seasoning...I don't know how much probably some where between 1-2 tsp. Then I add a few pinches of parsley flakes and a few shakes of pepper.
Stir it all together and return the lid to give all the ingredients their privacy so they can get to know each other a lot better.
Let them simmer on the stove for about 5 - 10 minutes, stirring every once in a while. Somewhere in there make sure and give it a taste and make sure it tastes all right. If it's not just what you like add what ever else you might think it needs.
Once it's done plate it up and serve it with some garlic toast and a large glass of sweet tea, if you like that sort of thing, other wise serve with whatever wets your whistle.

It's so yummy, you'll never go back to the jar sauce again!

Helpful hints: If you have a large amount of leftover sauce and don't really want to eat spaghetti for the next 10 days then put the excess sauce in a freeze proof container that has a lid and place it in the freezer. It keeps great. Then next time you want spaghetti just pull it out, add a little water to it and stick it in the microwave for a bit. It works great! i use to do this all the time before I married I have the human garbage disposal living in my house so I don't have to worry about it ever going to waste!

Hope ya'll enjoy this as much as I do!
Lots of Love,

Spaghetti Sauce

1 lb Hamburger
2 - 8oz cans Tomato Sauce
2 - Cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp Salt
1 - 8oz can Mushrooms (1/2 of the can)
1-2 tsp of Italian Seasoning
1-2 pinches of Parsley Flakes
Pepper to taste

Brown the hamburger, and drain grease.
Return pan with meat in it back to the stove and turn the heat to mid to low.
Add two cans of tomato sauce. Then add one can full of water as well. Stir.
Now add garlic, salt, mushrooms, Italian seasoning, parsley flakes, and pepper and stir. Cover and let simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Serve on top of pasta of your choice.

Severs 4-6 (I think)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Crazy Weekend in Southeast Kansas

Friday was sunshiny and 70 degrees. No jacket, no stocking hat...just jeans, a long sleeve shirt, and a pair of sunglasses. Actually I was wearing a t-shirt. It was beautiful and sunny, but..... didn't last. This is what we woke up Saturday morning, and it kept it up all day and all night along with win blowing 17-20 mph

So Sunday morning we wake up to a sad day.....there was a no church and there was at least 8 inches of snow on the ground and the wind was still blowing 17-20 mph. Oh joy more snow and crazy Kansas wind this makes for a great day.  Well, the cattle still have to eat, so Caleb and I get in the chore truck and head out to feed.  We know it's gonna be an interesting morning when we head down the road to our first pasture and have to gun it to make it through all the snow drifts.  

The first group of cattle got fed with little to no problems....well we did have to take the gate off the hinges so we could get in the pasture, but that wasn't too big of a deal. We just hung it back up when we were done!
But while we were in there we did almost get stuck.
The ladies got their food and were happy. So Caleb and I got back in the truck and headed back down the snow covered roads. If you were only going north or south you were just fine, but if you need travel east or west you were likely to have some problems.....and, well we needed to go east and west a lot, so you know what that means.......we had problems. 
Caleb was concentrating hard while driving....and in order to do that successfully you must stick your tongue out. Well as we were driving, we come up to the top of a hill and right in front of us was about 50-100 feet of snow drifts that were partly covering the road. (Originally Caleb had told me we were going to take the long way to the pastures and go on the highway cause it would be cleared off, but I guess he got a crazy hair and decided to try his luck on the dirt roads) Well, the drifts had a set of Amish wagon tracks going through the side of them them and some 4-wheeler tracks going next to them. .....we got stuck....and in the ditch just as I predicted. So Caleb makes the phone call for help and I grabbed my camera and went to play in the snow.
Caleb - "Well the Amish made it through the drifts. What do you think?"

Me- "If you try it you will probably end up in the ditch."

Caleb - "I think we can make it, I just need to get a little run at it."

So he backs up the truck and gets enough distance to get a good run at it. Then he put the 'peddle to the medal' and meets those drifts head on. Well Caleb must not have stuck his tongue out far enough, cause the inevitable happened....

Hey there I am and here are the snow drifts Caleb thought he could make it through. I am 5'8" so as you can see these were some pretty big drifts.
They were also pretty dense cause they held me up as I walked to the top....
...but not for long. Oh well it was fun while it lasted!

Ok, enough about me, lets get back to Caleb....after all if it wasn't for him I wouldn't have anything to write about.
 Look here he comes with "Pop's towing service," this time.  

 After a little tugging and pulling he was out...
...and ready to put the chain away, cause we won't be needing it any more.... 
....well at least not for another 50 ft or so. Yep we're stuck again. Caleb thought if Pop drove the tractor through the drifts and broke them open that we could make it on through. Well I guess you can't always be right.
Here's one of the drifts next to where he got stuck for the second time. Caleb is 6 ft and these guys were well over his head. Luckily Pop was still there with the tractor so we were out and going again in no time.
The roads were still far from good but Caleb kept his hands on the wheel and the pedal to the floor. No time to look back cause we were too far in to stop and turnaround now.
And while Caleb kept his hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, I kept my hand tight on the 'Oh Poop' handle as Caleb would call it or the 'Oh Sh**' handle as I would call it....he's a little nicer than I am. 
Well we finally made it around to all the pastures and like this little guy I was tuckered out and ready to just lay down and take a Sunday afternoon nap! 
But before we went home I made Caleb take a walk with me down to the creek for a few pictures. It was so beautiful and peacful down there. I could have stayed down there forever if it hadn't been so cold and I was starving!

The lets go home and eat! Potato Soup any one?!?!?