Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Is it Spring or Winter?

Gotta love Iowa weather!  Last Saturday I got a (little) sunburn on my arms while I was working outside cleaning up my flowerbeds and garden.  It was at least 75 degrees and mostly cloudy with a nice breeze.  Perfect weather to work in the yard!

I had some great help that day.  AJ helped me in the front and HD helped me in the garden!  

Before and After
Doesn't look much better in this picture, but it sure does in person!

Then that evening a storm rolled through and it cooled off drastically!  By Sunday morning we had nice rain off and on all day and then Sunday night it turned into sleet, and then snow.  So Monday morning we woke up to this:

At least it's some much needed moisture!  Although this time of the year we would prefer it as a nice rain, but I guess we'll take whatever we can get!

Luckily before the rain and snow rolled in, we were able to get all the fertilizer applied to the fields that will have corn planted in them.  You can read my post about crop management that explains why we apply the fertilizer here.  So we should be ready to start planting as soon as it warms up.  Ideally we would like the soil temperature to be at least 50 degrees before we start, but last I heard it was still in the lower 40s and that was before the snow.  So hopefully in the next week or two we'll be seeing planters rolling across the fields in our area!

Hope you're having a great week!  What's the weather been like in your area?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring is finally here!

It was so warm outside today!  I think it was at least 80 around here.  Unfortunately I was stuck inside all day, but this evening while the pork ribs were on the smoker and the scalloped potatoes were in the oven, the boys and I ran around outside and started picking up sticks.  

I think (knock on wood) that they should sleep really well tonight!  Fresh air and running off some energy does these two good!

HD seriously loves to run.  He'll run from one end of the yard to the other and back again, 20 times!  He ran a mile or so with his Aunt Megan last weekend.  Crazy kid!

AJ and Diesel are pretty much attached at the hip when we are outside.  Diesel is always following him around.

There are so many sticks and cornstalks all over our yard.  I'm not sure why it seems like it's the worst it's ever been, but I figured we better get started since the grass is really greening up already.  I had to make it a competition in order for HD to think picking up sticks was fun!

I actually took my good camera outside with us tonight.  I'm making myself use the Manual setting so I can learn how to take better pictures....the jury is still out, but all of the pictures are SOOC (straight out of camera), so it's a good start!

Trying to get two energetic boys to stand still long enough for a picture is next to impossible.  This was the best one!

The boys got this tractor from their Grandpa Jim and Grandma Sharri for Christmas.  It's been parked in the shed until recently.  Kevin showed HD how to put it in second gear when he was driving it, but he had to move it to first gear if AJ was going to drive it!

The trailer was useful tonight when picking up sticks!  Thanks grandpa and grandma!

After supper it was still really nice out, so we went back outside to watch the sun set.  (These pictures were taken with my iPhone.)

AJ wanted to say hi to the bulls.  He seems so little when he's close to them!

It was a good evening!  I hope this weather decides to stick around!  Have a great rest of the week!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Planning and Planting My Garden

Oh, boy!  It's time to start planning our garden already.  I'm not sure if I'm ready for that yet or not.  It's so much work, but I love having shelves full of canned goods and a freezer full of frozen veggies to eat throughout the year.  And with how much my boys eat, it definitely helps cut the grocery bill down!

My sister-in-law, Nancy, came over last week and we started our gardens.  We planted Better Boy tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, broccoli, onions, bell peppers, basil, and cucumbers.  We used little peat pots and some potting mix soil. 

HD was a little help, but he and AJ were more interested in playing with their farm toys that are out in the shed instead.

We put the plastic covers on them after we gave them a little water.

I ended up getting a grow light to help then along.

The broccoli was the first to pop up.  HD just thought it was so cool seeing the little plants.

The onions, tomatoes and flowers are all poking through too.  Won't be long before these little plants will be ready to be transferred to the garden!

Then I look at my garden and it's a long ways away from being able to put those little plants in the ground!

This is what I'm planning on planting this year:
Better Boy tomatoes
Roma tomatoes
Bell peppers (assorted colors)
Jalapeño peppers
Yellow onions
Carrots (two types)
Green beans (two types of pole beans)
Basil (lots!)
Yellow squash
Strawberries (they are already planted)

What are you planning on planting this year?  Are you starting already?  

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Neat Way to Organize Recipes

I keep thinking about "Spring Cleaning," but so far not much has happened around here in those regards.  I also have a lot of outdoor cleaning to do, but that has to wait until it warms up outside AND the wind isn't blowing 50 mph.  I'm hoping next weekend will work to get the garden and flower beds cleaned out and some sticks picked up, since there are a LOT of sticks to pick up all over our yard.

Something that I have been working on is my cookbook cupboard.  Last weekend I opened it up to see if I could fit the new cookbook that Kevin had brought home in there somewhere.  I tried to rearrange a little, but there was no way I was going to be able to put it in there unless I cleaned it up a little bit.

I started by taking all the cookbooks and loose recipes out and wiping out the cupboard with a rag.  I stacked similar cookbooks together and then put them back in the cupboards.  I did pull out about four cookbooks that I was going to get rid of.

I also put in a big pile all the loose recipes that we have cut out that we thought sounded good and also all the magazines that I need to go through still.  Just that pile of papers and magazines made a huge difference in the cupboard!

I used to cut and paste those recipes into a 3-ring binder, but I find that I use my iPad and laptop a lot more these days (and Pinterest) in the kitchen, so I decided to scan all the loose recipes into my laptop with our Neat Receipts scanner.  It worked great!  A few nights this week after the boys went to bed, I just plugged the little scanner into my Macbook Air and changed the location of where I wanted all the scanned recipes to be saved.  As I was scanning each recipe, I would edit the name of the recipe.

This did take some time, but now that huge pile is completely gone and it's all nice and "Neat" on my laptop.  I will go in (when I have some spare time) and make folders to organize the recipes even more.  Right now they are just in order by their name, but I'd like to have a Chicken, Beef, Seafood, Vegetables, Appetizers, Desserts, etc folders to find things easier.

This is what the cupboard looks like now.  It's not a HUGE difference, but it is definitely organized better and I now have some extra room in there.  The next thing I need to do is take that 3-Ring binder in the lower left corner and scan all those recipes in, but that will have to wait for another day.  

What have you been doing for spring cleaning?  How do you keep all your recipes and cookbooks organized?

Disclaimer:  This is not a sponsored post.  Neat does not know me at all and did not pay me for this post.  I just like to share products that I have that may help someone else!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Hauling Grain...For The First Time

Yesterday I did something for the first time.  I've know Kevin for over eight years now and I've never been to any of the grain elevators to deliver corn or soybeans.  Ever!  I know some of you may not think that's very exciting, or some of you farmers are probably thinking "really", but my father-in-law used to be the only one that hauled for Kevin and either my mother-in-law rode with him or he would haul early in the morning before work.  So I just never went along for the ride. 

Now Kevin hauls the grain to town occasionally and I still hadn't ever gone along.  Yesterday, I didn't actually ride in the semi-truck, I just met Kevin at the elevator because we were going to grab lunch together afterwards and you can't really drive a huge semi-truck to Ruby Tuesday's very easily! 

So I met him there and hopped in with him as he drove it through to dump the grain.  I don't know what I expected, but it was a really simple, quick process.  Probably because there was no one in front of us!  I know sometimes of the year they have to sit and wait hours to unload.  But on April 1st this year there was no line!  
When you first get there you have to stop before you unload the grain so a probe can be dropped down into the grain to check the moisture percentage and quality of grain like in the picture below.
Once you get the go ahead you pull onto a large scale.  It weighs the entire truck which still has the grain on it at this point.  Then you back up and Kevin hopped out to tell them his name and to open the traps.  This lets the corn fall right out of the bottom of the truck and through those metal grates that he is standing on.  This only takes about a minute to do. 
When both the front and back parts of the trailer are unloaded he then drives forward onto the scale again.  This time it weighs the whole truck without the grain.  This will then report to the office how many bushels of corn (or soybeans) we just delivered and they send us out a printed ticket and then we go on our merry way.  

So now, as a farm wife, I can say that I have unloaded grain at the elevator with my hubby!  Hope you are all having a great week!