The Mood of January

It’s no secret January can be a hard month. The flurry of holiday celebrations are winding down, the days are dark, and in the north the days are cold.

Still, cold is relative. As I write this we are in the middle of a beautiful January thaw. After most nights below zero the first half of the month we are now enjoying daytime temperatures above freezing. I hear talk of forty degrees in the coming days. I am, however, hoping we can avoid the rain and thunderstorms forecast for this weekend. 

I know my moods in January follow the weather, and when we are dealing with a swirling blizzard I have a hard time shaking angry thoughts of, “I HATE winter.” When the winds are calm and the sun shines it’s magically easy for me to pivot into recognizing the beauty of the snow, the purpose the winter serves in our climate, and my love of four seasons.

I also love coming home on a winter night. The dark tells my mind I don’t need to be thinking about the outside work until tomorrow. If I planned ahead I have a delicious something bubbling in the crockpot. JR and I can start a fire (real or by clicking on the gas fireplace) and catch up on the day. Best of all, I have a snugly baby I can hold and feed and read to as I wind down for the day.


I love the quiet of winter evenings, and I try to internalize that love to combat my not-so-favorite parts of winter.

This January also brings more uncertainty than normal for a few reasons. Along with the rest of the country, I hold my breath as leadership changes. I wouldn’t believe anyone who claims to know exactly what the next four years will bring, but I know change is here. As always, I pray for the future of our country and our world. I watch the cabinet picks and follow the confirmation hearings with persistence. I consider calling my senators about some of them. I wonder when we will get a Secretary of Agriculture nominee. 

On the farm front we are working through mountains of paperwork, meetings, and business planning for the future. It has ups and downs. My role will eventually  change to include more office and financial work. This change plays to my strengths, but I haven’t yet figured out how to rearrange my other work to make room for this change.

It’s easy to let worry overtake you during the dark months of the year, but I know I am capable of focusing on the good and moving forward.

One recent slice of good I want to share is Speedy and my first stroller run of 2017. It was already warming up Sunday afternoon, so I loaded up the baby and the stroller and drove to the lake paths. We enjoyed three easy miles, and I was happy to take a break from the treadmill. It was exactly what I needed. I ran hardly at all in December, so January is a needed fresh start. I have my eye on my seventh Earth Day Half Marathon, and I’m hopeful I can make it to the start AND finish feeling good. Further goals TBD. ☺️

What does January mean for you this year? Do you have worries, goals, or thoughts to share?  

Posted in Agriculture ( in general), Being a Mom, Running, This and That | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Choosing Foods as a Mom!

It’s pretty accurate to say I’m a lifelong farmer. I grew up on a family farm the first eighteen years of my life. As regular readers know, I’ve been dairy farming with my husband since we got married in 2009. Four years of college in the Twin Cities was the farthest I got from the country.

Over the years on this blog I’ve  written about food choice, food safety, and the pride farmers have in the food we grow. I’ve written from the perspective of a farmer, a runner, and an eater.

Since the birth of my son last year I’ve embraced my newest and most loved title. Mom. I have also realized choosing food from the perspective of a parent really is different. At nine months old Speedy loves chewing on everything from cooked carrots and Cheerios to a strip of steak. I want healthy, nourishing food for his little body, and I care more about the safety and quality of his food than I do my own.

I thought, perhaps, some of you would be curious if becoming a mom drastically changes how I choose and talk about food. In a word, the answer is “No.” I haven’t changed my food perspective too much, but I do think now is a good time to reinforce some of my core values – this time as a mom.

1) I still believe in choice. Whether you shop at Target, the farmers market, or your corner grocery, I hope you have access to safe, affordable food. I continue to be grateful for the abundance and variety of America’s food supply.

2) I still dislike fear in food marketing. I feel sad when our country’s whirlwind of food labels causes confusion, stress, and even fear. People don’t need that when they are simply trying to shop for their families. I bristle when I see “GMO-free” on a bag of broccoli because broccoli grown with GMO technology is not available in any grocery store. Anywhere. I also happen to believe GMOs have some good qualities. I did a little internet search for a list of which crops are actually genetically modified, and it was harder to find a reputable link than I expected. This list on GMO answers is a good place to start.

GMOs are not the answer to everything. I’m not naive enough to believe they are always the best solution, and I know world hunger is more a problem of food distribution than food supply. However… If you care about world hunger, if you care about affordable food, if you care about the environment and sustainable farming – then I think you have to believe GMOs are important to explore as a piece of the solution on these issues. -Me, August 2011. I still feel this way today. 

3) I am still on a mission to clear up misinformation about antibiotics. I feel uncomfortable with the label “antibiotic-free.” Why? Because any animal treated with antibiotics can’t be slaughtered for meat during a specifically defined withdrawal time. This time ensures all antibiotic residue has cleared from an animal’s body before they can be used for food. Technically, all food available for human consumption in the U.S. is antibiotic-free, even if an animal needed antibiotics at some point.

Furthermore, since becoming a mom I remain convinced modern medicine is important for both people and animals. We provide many daily things on our farm, like fresh bedding and feed and clean water, to keep our cattle healthy. Sometimes an animal still gets sick. If a calf shows signs of pneumonia or a cow develops an infection I think it’s wrong to deny them the treatment they need. I know we can work with our veterinarian to be responsible about animal health because I see this relationship in action.

I will never understand why some who claim to be advocates for animal welfare want to deny all modern medical treatment to farm animals.

4) I still like raising the food I can, but I’m thankful for the grocery store. And takeout pizza. Over the years my husband and I have  raised our own chickens and grown our own cabbage to make sauerkraut. We eat our own beef (and our own version if JR is successful during deer hunting). We normally have a good-sized garden and freeze lots of veggies for winter, but this summer with a brand new baby we didn’t plant anything of our own. Different seasons of life mean we can’t always do everything. Being at peace with that reality is important to me.

Speedy eats baby purées occasionally, but usually he’s getting peices of whatever vegetable or meat or concoction we’re eating at the time. He’s learning to handle and chew his food well, and we’re doing our best to start him on a path to nutritious eating. As he grows, that path will include talk about where food comes from and an appreciation for the land and animals behind it. All food, no matter what labels appear on it, starts with the basics of soil and the plants and animals that thrive on it.

What more would you like to know? Maybe you’ve got a dairy question or you’re wondering about a food label you saw last week? I’d love to answer your questions or help you find someone who can!

Posted in Agriculture ( in general), Being a Mom, Cooking and Foods | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

First Christmas Memories

No matter how rushed, busy, and crazy I might let myself get before the holidays, Christmas itself is such a beautiful and holy time. I love it. Part of the reason I love it so much is the years of intertwined and happy memories it brings up each December. 

I hope we are helping Speedy make happy memories of this blessed time as well.


A whirlwind morning of farm chores, Christmas Eve Day with my family and Christmas Eve night with JR’s family with church in between made for a lot of miles and a tired baby and parents. But it was good. 
On Christmas Day itself we had crazy gusts of winds followed by an afternoon of freezing rain. The winds continued into the evening, the temperatures warmed up slightly, and we had a night of thunder, lightening, and downpours. I was glad we did our traveling on the day before! 

 I probably don’t have to spell out for you how much extra outside work this storm made, but I’m relieved to look back and say all people and animals are safe and sound. It did, however, take until the afternoon of the 26th for us to find the last missing calf from the row of those whose hutches blew away during the storm.      An icy Christmas

Speedy turned 9 months old on the 27th, and now we look forward to a fun and wild journey as he grows in this coming year. Maybe I’m just naive or hormonal or both, but I feel like everything is made better by kids. Being a mom is the greatest gift I can fathom, and I pray I will always cherish it as much as I do this year. 


Here’s to a productive last few days of 2016 and lots of progress, fulfillment, and love in the coming year.


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Wishy Washy Winter

I see I last wrote on “Blizzard Eve,” and come it did. As predicted the rain turned to sleet, the sleet turned to snow, and the snow turned into a swirling blizzard. Somewhere between six inches to one foot piled up, and I was sad about instant winter.

With the warm fall the ground was soggy and not at all frozen, so pushing snow and clearing out the farmyard was muddy, slow going. Our driveway and main paths around the barn are well structured and graveled but everything else was hard to plow and navigate.

  Mid-process of a long snow clean out. 

I think Speedy noticed the world looked differently, but he wasn’t too impressed. The morning he was born I remember we had a few inches of fresh, wet snow, but it was all melted away by mid-day. And I’m fairly certain that was our final measurable snow of the spring. I wonder if he will grow up to like snow and winter? 

This past week the temperatures have warmed up again, and we’ve had rain, fog, or both nearly everyday. That means the mud continues, and last night I even heard the radio meteorologist comment we haven’t seen the sun in so long it’s starting to feel like Seattle. I’m praying for a healthy dose of sunshine, stat!

I also want to wish you all a belated Happy Thamksgiving and a joyful start to December. We had a fun first Thanksgiving with Speedy and spent time with both our families while balancing the work and farm chores. It’s been a particularly hard balance this year because in November we’ve had more calves born than any other month in our farm’s history. 

We have calves throughout the year with some ebbs and flows, but this month just ended up particularly crazy. We will have quite a few more born the next two weeks, but things will go back to normal or even less than normal levels after that. It’s hard right now, but I’m grateful we will have a slightly easier stretch during the coldest part of the year.

I was super happy to capture photos of four generations of JR’s family and every last member of my side’s growing family. Between myself and my four sisters we now have one girl and six boys. These cousins already have some wild times! 🙂

Happy December and stay warm or stay cool, wherever you are! 

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Blizzard Eve

November has been simply delicious this year. Warm mellow days followed by cool nights and flowers that are still blooming. Is this really Minnesota?

Tonight is our reality check. Winter storm advisories and a blizzard warning are filling our news, and I suspect we will wake up to a coating of rain or ice that will turn to swirling snow. My honest feelings right now are dread and frustration over all the extra work and worry snow brings.

I should try not to wallow, and I did manage to come up with one positive. I’m curious to see what Speedy’s reaction will be when he looks out at his first snowfall. Will he be happy and curious about the newly white outdoors or will he even notice? 

Our harvest is safely finished and today we all spent the day scurrying around the farm moving calves, hauling manure, cleaning up projects and finishing the last of field tillage so we could be ready (as possible) for the snow. 

The warm November also meant I got the push I needed to get our back deck painted. I managed the front porch this summer, but the deck is larger, daunting, and looked oh so much worse. Success is mine!

I’m actually about half done in the ‘before’ picture, but you get the idea. 

Our little speedster has been crawling for the past few weeks, and he is so happy to explore everywhere we let him. The dogs, however, feel less happy that their eminent domain is getting smaller. Luckily they like him too. 

Think of us in the snow tomorrow, and let’s hope it blows through more quickly than predicted. Ready or not… Goodbye fall. Hello winter. 


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