Catfish from Tommy

IMG_4651The other day, Jeremie and Tommy went over to help a neighbor install a dishwasher. While they were there, they met a nice gentleman by the name of Tommy F. Mr F. took a liking to the other Tommy and dropped by out the blue and gifted him a bow for hunting. He was so considerate in taking Jeremie aside to ask privately if this was ok, before revealing this gift to anyone else. What a special thing to do! What a way to encourage a young man! To tell him that he wanted to gift him this bow because Tommy was a nice, kind, smart, respectful, boy who was interested and engaged in life. IMG_4657So the day after that, Mr. F. drops by with a cooler full of catfish! We have never processed catfish, so he had to show us how. He kept exclaiming, “Oh! All these babies and all these knives!” It was really funny because all the kids from Benjamin on up have sharp Victronix knives because they all help process the animals around here. Mr. F. is missing three of his fingers because he sister accidentally dropped a sharp ax on them when he was only 5! So I’d say his fear and caution around knives and sharp things is well warranted. IMG_4658 But anyway, all the fish got processed and fried up for dinner. I’ve always declined to eat fish, but I have been inconsistent in my distaste, because I quite enjoy sushi, as pointed out to me by Jeremie. “You won’t eat fried fish, but you’ll eat raw fish?!” Um, yeah, I guess that about sums it up.  IMG_4660

Hog killin’

Let’s jump from birthdays to bloodbaths. Nothing is more exciting to me than learning how to process my own meats. Well, a few things are, I suppose. But this ranks right up there at the top. img_4247So when I heard that our local state representative was hosting a hog kiiling, well I signed right up. This was quite a large operation. He had two tractors going, a huge scalding tank that was so big I couldn’t even see into it, a 50 gallon cast iron kettle for cracklin’s, and power tools!img_4248 I’m not so interested in the killing, scalding, gutting stages. I only want to work on carcasses that have no head or innards. But Jeremie and Tommy helped with that part. There were two fires going under the scalding tank to get it up to heat. The scraping process was surprisingly easy. And Jeremie says the gutting was pretty much the same as doing a deer. img_4296Then a sawzall was used to cut the carcass in half. Our host hired a processor from Yoder Bro Meats to come and cut up the halves into useable pieces. He showed us where the bacon, leaf fat, picnic, boston, spare ribs and shoulder roasts were cut from. I tried my hand at piecing out a hog and it was fairly easy and straight forward.img_4352 I’ve since been watching videos from the farmstead meatsmith and hope to learn to divide a hog carcass with more care and finesse. There was a grinder there for making sausage and a sausage stuffer as well. The weather this day was in the single digits and my toes got froze. img_4346People had come from all over the state to join in this tradition. I am so looking forward to transforming some of the grunting, wallowing hogs in our pasture into succulent bacon and chops!

Yes, this is what we ate for lunch that day.

Yes, this is what we ate for lunch that day.

Birthday kids

img_4228We’ve had a slew of birthdays here at the Funny Farm in the past month. It actually started last year, ha! Gloria turned one on December 25. But we’ve decided to postpone her celebration by 6 months. We will be treating June 25 as her (1/2) birthday in the hopes that she will enjoy having a summer birthday, far removed from all the holiday hustle. It was mildly hard to let the actual anniversary of her birth pass unnoticed, especially because babies change so much in the first year. Walking, talking, sleeping, eating. Huge milestones. But I contented myself with a whispered “happy birthday” and an extra sweet hug.

Peek-a-boo!

Peek-a-boo!

Susie was next on the birthday roster… January 11. She turned 13 this year. The year of the ring, we call it. As our girls grow and mature, their daddy wants to make sure they know how special they are to him. He wants to ask for their trust. He wants to ask for their heart. He takes each one out for a special night and reaches out to them and gifts them with a special ring. Susie is a delight to us. Quiet, sweet, helpful, kind and insightful. She produces the most amazing crafts I’ve ever seen. Tiny fairy houses. Miniature clay creations. Wood and leather items of all kinds. She is diligent in her chores and finds satisfaction in a job well done. I cannot begin to quantify the joy she brings to us all! IMG_20170111_125523757Ruthie’s birthday was just two days after Susie’s. And what an anti-climatic day this was. Ruthie has gotten it into her head that she is “5”, just like her big brother, Jack. She will tell me that they are “twins”. I think this has less to do with wanting to be twins with Jack, as it does with wanting to not be “younger” than him. So when the morning of the 13th came, she was quite crestfallen to realize that she was, in fact, turning only 3. Oh, the disappointments of youth. Ruthie has been a darling since the day she was born. Full of character and not a little sass. Perhaps she is a bit spoiled by her mama, I fully realize. Her favorite things are her good bippy, Sofia, yogurt, calico critters, girl legos, Barbies, lipstick, clementines and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They are really peanut butter and honey sandwiches, but she insists they are jelly. She doesn’t eat the skins of apples, so I often find little crescent apple slices laying about, half eaten.  She won’t kiss you if she has lipstick on, but will tell you that you may kiss her on the cheek, if you like. The other day she was mourning in the car because she left the house without her hair being curled. She has worn the same silver dress for over a month. Every day, including church on Christmas Eve. She often pouts with crossed arms, which will get her in a bit of trouble with Daddy. IMG_4632Tommy comes next. He turned 15 this year. At times, during his youth, Tommy may have pushed me to the brink. He may have caused a few sleepless nights. He may have caused me to scratch my head in bewilderment, or pull out my hair in frustration. But Tommy has become one of my most favorite people. He has such a kind heart. He is patient to help anyone out. His mind is constantly running with questions, seeking new ways to do things, new ideas, inventions. He is a mess, but I must admit, he comes by that honestly. He has passed me by in height, to his delight. I am so proud of the fine young man he is.IMG_4610

I’m back!

Y’all, I’ve missed being here. My time on the computer has been taken up by scouring Pinterest every. single. night.  House plans. Kitchen plans. Open floor plans. Large family living. Fireplaces. Viking ranges. Aga stoves. Back staircases. Sewing rooms. I cannot express enough how excited I am to finally be seriously thinking about these things. But thinking about these things…whew! Makes my head spin. I’ve determined to re-claim my space over here.  So look forward to cute kids pictures, scary bug pictures, farm news, and stories of our life. Thanks for stopping by our blog-home!IMG_4693

Oh yeah,

It’s that time of year again! With the mild winter everyone is thinking of gardening season which lurks right around the corner. The soil felt so good in my hands today as I planted lettuces, kales, asian greens, cabbages, broccolis and brussel sprouts. So happy to be working in my greenhouse and Gloria was happy to hanging out in her playpen in there as well!img_4204

A goal of mine

Every year Jeremie and I sit down and toss around ideas for this farm of ours. Projects to be tackled. Countless items to be fixed. Purchases to be saved for. And then I add my own personal goals as well. And for the last couple years I have written down, “Learn to make cheese.”. I’ve done the easy stuff like mozzarella and goat cheese. But I want to tackle cheddar and Colby. I have no excuse now, except my own fear to hold me back! Look at this beautiful cheese press Jeremie made! He researched different methods for pressing the whey out of cheese and came up with this design. I cannot wait to give it a try. Too bad you have to wait so long to try your cheese before you know what it’s going to taste like.img_4211

Mobile Science Lab

img_20161216_105316256_hdrWe do some pretty cool science stuff around here, but we’ve never made homemade bouncy balls. Well, now we have! We visited a mobile science lab that travels around introducing students to ag related science concepts. This time the students were working with cornstarch and water and a couple drops of corn oil. While ooblek is a common item around my house, I never knew that if you microwaved it for just a minute, it would turn into a bouncy ball. Well, it will after a few hours of molding, and molding, and molding. Such a fun experience in the back of a fifth wheel cargo trailer!img_20161216_105303491

Back home

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We had a wonderful time visiting relatives up north! We had time to see cousins, aunts and uncles on both sides. And our naturopath Dr in Wisconsin. :) So many good conversations and warm hugs. There was beautiful snow, which was such fun for all the kids! We went ice skating at Jeremie’s sister’s house. And for snowmobile sled rides, until trees started jumping in front of the kids out of nowhere. My mom made homemade Baileys, which is so much better than store bought. We had treats of all kinds, including Mia’s favorite..puff pastry wrapped brie and jelly. Candlelight singing of Silent Night. All the required experiences to make it a memorable holiday. We had no car issues, which is surprising, given our past experience. It was wonderful to celebrate the birth of our Saviour with family!

A cool treat! I prefer it on ice. Even in the winter.

A cool treat! I prefer it on ice. Even in the winter.

The Eats

img_4175Almost, if not more, important than the gift giving is the eating that goes on around here during the holiday celebrations. Mia has been baking truffles, fudge, cookies  and more! img_4174Appetizers for dinner while opening gifts! We had ham and cheese stromboli bites, artichoke dip, stuffed mushrooms, bbq chicken sliders, crescent dogs, chili dip and sweets! Kid wine for everyone! img_4173I pray my home is always such a bustle of loud laughter, good times, sweet eating, loving siblings and sweet babes.

Whose photo bombing?

Who’s photo bombing?

Gloria did not get to partake in any of the good food. Her treat was a kefir popsicle. She was happy with that.  img_4192