Little House on the Ranch: Week 1

It’s officially official. We have a big hole in the ground!

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There was much debate as to whether our #littlehouseontheranch would have a basement or not. I was on team full basement with a walkout, MyFarmer was on team no basement. So we met in the middle, 1/2 basement, no walkout because marriage is about compromise… and concrete is expensive. In the end we truly needed it for storage. The house is going to have an upstairs loft that’s open to the living room/kitchen, so that won’t leave much room for attic space. The basement will also be a perfect annoying cat storage(looking at you, Zazzles) and anti-tornado facility. Both of those are much needed.

The only slight mishap thus far was digging up and breaking the water line that runs down to the horse barn. Luckily they were able to get it fixed fairly quickly and the horses never ran out of water.

We are now getting to “decision mode” so we are trying to line up where we need to go to look at siding, roofing, etc. The only thing we really know for 100% sure is that we are going to have custom barn wood kitchen cabinets made from a barn that was on MyFarmers great uncles farm. We are super excited to see those when they are done!

I’d tell you what they are doing next… but I honestly have no clue. I have yet to be at the farm when the guys are working to ask them. But I keep seeing progress every day when I do get there, so I think I’ll just stay out of their way!

Now’s the time that I ask for your opinions: What brands of appliances do you love and hate and why? We need to know! Seriously, we have no clue what we’re doing here.

Laney

Farmers Market Corn Pasta

If you are a carb-a-phobe, I’m going to ask you to calmly, but quickly, look away. This is not something you’ll be interested in and you’ll probably think less of me as a person. But, if you’re like me and carbs are friends, please continue to scroll.

I’m obsessed with those quick Facebook cooking videos. The only problem is that when I watch the videos I only remember bits and pieces of what the actual recipe was, and then I can’t ever seem to find the video again. This can be an issue when I go to re-create those recipes. I often try to replicate, sometimes I’m successful, other times… well, not so much. But let me tell you. I was successful on this one. Holy Moly it is delicious. Trust me.

What you’ll need for Farmers Market Corn Pasta:

  • Pasta of your choice(I used spaghetti noodles “made with veggies” because, healthy)
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Onion(1/2)
  • Garlic(3 cloves)
  • Dry white wine or chicken stock/broth(about 1/2 cup)
  • Fresh sweet corn cut off the cob (from Ruby Branch Farms, duh) (4 ears)
  • Fresh herbs (I used basil and parsley)
  • Fresh Parmesan
  • Olive Oil

The vast majority of the ingredients are things you probably have in your pantry already! Anything fresh can be picked up at the farmers market this time of year, so that makes this recipe even better!

Start off by heating up your saucepan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and throw in your cherry tomatoes. I used about 3/4 of the pint. Throw a little salt and pepper on them because it’s fun. Cook the tomatoes in the pan until they start to get plump and the skins begin to loosen up.

Add your finely diced onion and minced garlic to the tomatoes and cook them down until the onions are soft and translucent. By this time your tomatoes should be starting to burst.

Add about 1/2 cup of the liquid of your choice. I used chicken broth because I don’t generally have dry white wine in the house. I’m more of a Boone’s Farm kind of gal, if you know what I mean. Mince up some parsley and throw it in the pan, along with a little more salt and pepper.

When the liquid reduces by half, add your corn and let all of it get married in the pan. (At this point I did add a little bit of dry Italian seasoning and some garlic powder. I’m not certain it’s necessary, but it didn’t hurt either!)

After about 2 minutes, add your cooked and drained pasta to your saucepan and coat all of the noodles.

Serve your pasta up in a big plate or bowl, top with some parmesan shavings and chopped parsley and basil.

It’s fresh, delicious, easy, and full of farmers market flavors!

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If you are a fan of spicing things up a bit, throw some red pepper flakes in with the liquid. Or a couple dashes of hot sauce, if you’re into that kind of thing. You could also eaisly sub out the spaghetti noodles for zuchini noodles! I actually think that would be quite tasty.

Happy Cooking!

Laney

Little House on the Ranch Update: It’s Happening!

Y’all, this has been a long spring and summer. It seems like we have been busier than ever on the farm, at our jobs, and just in life. The weather has been a bizarre mix of monsoon, scorching heat, then dry and crispy. It’s made for a weird first half of the year. Along with all the “normal” life we have had some issues with getting deeds and permits to get our #LittleHouseOnTheRanch project moving forward. Praise the Lord we *hopefully* have all of those problems behind us and we are full speed ahead! The only preliminary thing left is to close on our construction loan in a couple of days… surely that won’t be too dramatic. Other than the fact that I’m going to be sobbing in despair over signing our lives away. I really married into the wrong occupation for being terrified of debt. HA!

We mapped out the house location and put the little flags out last night. Our house is going to be a little over 1,800 square feet and let me tell you something; in the middle of a 70ish acre farm with two shops that are well over 5,500 square feet, that looks like a tiny little rectangle on the ground. For a second I really thought if I were to lay down in the middle like a star fish I could touch all the corners. But I can’t. And I have some really long arms. A whole house is going to fit in there. I’m certain of it.

They are going to start digging our basement TOMORROW! It’s about to get real! I can’t believe it’s actually happening. There’s been so much build-up and let-down over this project thus far that MyFarmer and I are at the point of “Let’s just get this crap over with.” Although I am pretty excited to blog out the whole process, and it will be neat to look back over everything that happens once it’s all done!

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This photo is how I know Glenn is going to be a trooper through our building process. We got all the flags set and I forgot to take a picture. I mean, this is important stuff, it needs to be documented! Without hesitation he picked his tape back up again and posed beautifully for this life-altering photo. Bless him.

 

Friends, I’m so looking forward to sharing this #littlehouseontheranch adventure with you all! I think we are going to have a whole lot of fun!

Stay tuned – a picture of a backhoe coming soon!

Laney

Senile Horses

You know how they say that humans go “back to diapers” in their old age? It’s so true! (Some) old people go back to having the mind of a toddler. Well, Mr. Theodore Bearhug, my resident geriatric horse, has 100% proven to me that he has decided to go back to his toddler ways.

The last 5 years or so I’ve noticed that his give-a-damn has been slightly busted. In his younger days (you know, early twenties) he was this sweet old horse that anyone could ride. He has now been retired from riding completely, even little kids, because all he wants to do is prance around and be a turd. But you know what, he’s 31 and he has probably given about 1,873,024 pony rides in his life. If he wants to be done with the pony ride life, I don’t blame him.

It’s not just the riding part, he also sometimes “forgets” how to lead, and just in general decides what he’s going to be doing and when he is going to be doing it. Granted, I can take the blame for a large majority of this… After he hit the age of 26 I pretty much quit reprimanding him for anything. I figured once he got to that age he deserved to live out his life as he pleased.

But last nights shit show really took the cake and proved to me that Theodore has in fact “gone back to diapers” and is trying to give me a heart attack.

The farrier was coming to my place, so I got both horses caught and took up to the shop where they get shod. The flies were HORRIBLE and it was approximately 1,927 degrees in the shade, so I decided to give them a bath really quick, in hopes that they would be dry by the time the farrier got there.

WELL, I was starting to hose Alvin off and I left Theodore loose to graze around in the grass. Out of the corner of my eye I see Theodore make a b-line at a fast walk into the shop and over to a yellow bucket of used oil. When he reached his destination he dunked his face straight into that bucket. There was no hesitation, no sniffing around, just a very purposeful plunge into that oil, up past the nostrils. Of course I go into panic mode, drop Alvin’s lead rope and go grab Theodore up. I start spraying his face, up his nose, in his mouth, just trying to get all of this oil off and out of him before he can get too much of it ingested. His teeth, nose, lips, everything was black.

Sometime during this escapade, Alvin, who is a giant sissy/worry wort, thought that HE might be in trouble too, so he took off towards the pasture. Now I have a horse running off that thanks to all the corn around I can’t see where he’s going, a horse with oil all over his face that’s screaming for his missing friend and is running around me, I’ve got a hose and a bottle of VO5 trying to get all this oil off of him, and any oil that is coming off of him is going straight onto me and my glasses. So here I am, soaked in water/oil, blind because my glasses are covered, I have no idea where my other horse is, and my farrier is going to arrive at any moment. Just another day at my funny farm!

Thankfully, everyone was captured, bathed, calmed down, and alive when the farrier did get there. The ponies got their pedicures and we all lived happily ever after… except for my poor glasses. I have washed 3 times and they still have a little bit of greasy residue on the lenses. Seeing clearly is overrated, right?

All I can say at this point is T.G.I.to the F. For realz.

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So much personality in that old man of a horse! ❤

Have a great weekend!

Laney

An Awful First

I don’t know where I heard it, probably in some ridiculous Lifetime movie my mom forced us to watch, but for some reason it has always stuck with me: Life is just a series of firsts. First breath, first tooth, first day of school, first day of college, first love, first day of your first job, first house, etc. etc. Most of the time when we think of “firsts” they are good. But then sometimes we come across some firsts that pretty much suck. First heart break, first loss of a loved one, first broken bone, first wreck, and so on.

I’ve had a lot of really wonderful firsts with my sweet Theodore Bearhug. Catching the first steer I ever roped on him, first day of college, first college rodeo, first check in team roping, first rodeo short go, I could go on and on. He’s been with me since before MyFarmer, a full 10 years now. My parents bought him for me the summer between high school and college so the old boy and I have been through a whoooole lot of life and (me) growing up together. He’s been my faithful companion through it all, even when I didn’t deserve his love, and he has always been the sweet boy that puts a smile on my face. Sure, we have had some times that weren’t so good… like the time he tried to cut his leg off on a fence and that other time when he tore his suspensory ligament, but he came back from both of those injuries better than ever and went on to compete again.

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He’s so adorable that it hurts.

I had yet another first with my sweet Theodore last week. And it was an AWFUL first. He is 31 years old this year, which is quite old for a horse, but I’m not really accepting his age well. I can see the changes in him, but I refuse to let myself feel them, until they come and hit me like a ton of bricks.

That day was the first time Theodore has gotten down to roll and wasn’t able to get back up on his own. And it was heartbreaking. Thankfully I was at the barn and saw him standing before I saw him struggling, so I knew he hadn’t been down for long. Also very luckily MyFarmer was planting sweet corn really close by so he was able to help in a hurry. When I got to Theo he had been trying to get up and had physically wore himself out. He just layed there with his head on the ground while I petted him and let him catch his breath… while I held mine.

Once MyFarmer got to us we were able to push his front end up and hold him there until he was able to get his back end under himself. Once he was up he went right back to grazing like nothing happened. MyFarmer looked at me and said: “Don’t you start crying now. He’s okay.” And with those seven words the water works began. Tears that he was fine, and tears that he’s not fine.  He is THIRTY ONE years old. And there is NOTHING I can do about it. No amount of love, attention, nutrition, therapy, can slow down time. And that sucks. But it also served as a reminder to truly cherish the time I’ve got left with him, until I have to endure the very last first we’ll ever have. The first day without him.

Some people are reading this and it totally get it. They know the love a person can have for an animal and how much it hurts having to watch them age or lose them. Other people will think to themselves, “He’s just a horse. Get over it.” And that’s fine too. It’s impossible to explain the love between a girl a her horse, but trust me, it is a force to be reckoned with.

Laney

P.S. I feel like I need to add this in:

A few days later I got to witness another first for my Theodore… but this one was precious. MyFarmer (a self proclaimed “horse hater” *eyeroll*) came down to the horse barn to talk to me and was standing next to Theo’s pen. Theodore got this mischievous look on his face and reached over the panels to playfully nuzzle on MyFarmer. He started at his hip and worked his way up to his face. If a horse can smile, Theodore most certainly was, as was MyFarmer. My heart almost exploded in that moment. That little show of affection between my two favorite 31 year old’s in the world will forever be engraved in my brain. ❤

Pumpkin Crafter and Sushi Master

What is the weather like in your neck of the woods? We have been going from tornado watches to winter weather advisories on a daily basis around here the last couple weeks. Mother Nature really needs to go home, she’s drunk.

Anywho… even though it’s just March we have been working on all kinds of stuff for Ruby Branch this fall. Really January-March are our only times to work on projects and crafts for the fall because starting in the middle of March all H-E-Double hockey sticks breaks loose on the farm and at my job. Moral of the story, we make wooden pumpkins in March.

I bought a cheap little pumpkin decor thing off of Amazon and presented it to MyFarmer. He looked at it and said, “I can make this, no problem.” “Good,”  I said,”Because that was my plan.”

And make awesome little pumpkin decor things he did. They are so cute!! He’s been telling me not to share them with the world yet but I just can’t help it! We have some that are more finished and fancier than the picture I have here, but I want to save the surprise of how awesome they really are for later. Some of them are painted, some stained, some just plain, some have chalkboard paint. Ohhh the possibilities!!

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I MEAN SERIOUSLY. He has some that he’s made from barnwood and pallet wood and all of the “pumpkins” are made from at least partially reclaimed wood. Most of them actually have realllly old hard wood flooring as the base which I think is really cool.

Over the course our relationship MyFarmer has continued to amaze me with the stuff he can make. I’ve learned to never doubt his abilities since he honestly has yet to let me down with any of his craftsmanship. He’s made all kinds of tables and desks and minion straw bales and random stuff that always turn out amazingly. But when he started talking about making sushi a couple weeks ago I got scared. Really scared. So scared that the night of the sushi making I sat in the truck in the driveway for 10 minutes mustering up the courage to go inside.

When I walked into my house I was in shock. There, in my kitchen, was sushi rice, crunchy shrimp, avocado and seaweed wraps. And there was MyFarmer constructing sushi. And it was DELICIOUS. I will never doubt him and his sushi bazooka again.

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THE MAN MADE SUSHI, Y’ALL! And the table it’s sitting on, actually.

I think I’ll keep my handy little farmer sous chef around.

Laney

Barley: From Our Farm to Your Beer

I posted an adorable picture of my dog AreenaJo in a barley field early this morning and it has put me on a “learn about barley” kick today. So I figured if I’m going to learn, we might as well learn together! It works out nicely that as I write this my resident barley expert, MyFarmer, is in the next room building a fishing pole so I can ask him as many questions as I want to and he can’t run away from me.

We are really lucky in southern Kentucky that we can “double crop” our fields, which means exactly what it sounds like… we can harvest 2 crops a year off of a piece of ground. To do this, we harvest the crop in the fall (corn) and plant the winter wheat or barley right behind it. We harvest the winter crop in late spring, then plant our “double crop” soybeans. (We always plant soybeans after wheat or barley.) The soybeans will grow all summer and will be harvested later in the fall. We don’t do this on all of our fields every year, but we do utilize this practice on fields that we want to prevent erosion of topsoil throughout the winter months.

We are one of the few farms in our little county that raise barley and we only raise on average 60-100 acres every year. Wheat is much more commonly grown in our area and we usually raise about 350 acres of it as well, but ScubaSteve is a humongous fan of barley. Why? Well it’s not because the price is better than wheat… that’s for sure. BUT it does tend to have a higher yield than wheat and most importantly the beans that are planted behind barley are higher yielding than the soybeans planted behind wheat. It’s enough of a yield boost to offset the difference in cash price between the wheat and barley and it helps our farm spread more risk out through crop diversification. Plus ScubaSteve loves barley… so we plant barley.

Barley is raised on every continent in the world that crops are grown and it is thought to be one of the first grains to be domesticated by humans. The top 4 countries for barley production are Russia, Germany, France and Canada. There are 2 types of barley grown around the world, feed grade barley and malting/food grade barley. Malting barley has a much higher starch content so it is preferred for making alcohol. About 60% of the barley produced across the world goes into animal feed, and the other 40% of the crop goes directly into human consumption via 2 main routes. 1) Milled/polished/dehulled barley or the barley is ground to make flours that can be used in a number of different breads/crackers/etc. 2) Beer. The majority of all barley that is used for human consumption actually goes into making beer! The types of barley used for beer are two-rowed barley and six-rowed barley. Different parts of the world prefer two or six-rowed for the purpose of making beer. The United States prefers six-rowed, but many other countries around the world prefer two.

So where does the barley from our farm go? Well… we don’t know. Some farmers actually contract their grain out to a specific company. There are a lot of farmers east of us that sell their corn directly to bourbon makers (this is Kentucky after all!) so they know that their corn is going to be made into bourbon. So the next time you drink bourbon pat yourself on the back for supporting a Kentucky farmer! 😉 I’m sure some farmers that grow barley near a beer making company take their barley directly to the source as well. We don’t have a local beer maker, so we take our barley to a local elevator where they load it on train carts and it can go anywhere in the US or world from there. (Fun fact about our little town.. until a couple years ago we were still a “dry county.” We had to go across the state line to Tennessee to buy any alcohol.) The type of barley that we raise is primarily used for animal feed, not beer, so sorry about kind of lying to you with the title. But I thought that sounded a whole lot better than “Barley: From Our Farm to a Cow’s Stomach to a Steak on Your Plate.” Please forgive me.

I’m not sure what your area of the world has been experiencing weather-wise, but it has been extremely unseasonably warm this winter for us. I think we have only had a few days where the ground was even frozen in the morning. Yesterday (February 24) was almost 80 degrees. That’s just unheard of. While the warm temperatures are great for walks with the dogs, it is a major concern for us on the wheat and barley front. We plant our wheat and barley after the fall crop has been harvested out of the field, so usually around October. This gives the barley and wheat about a month or so to come up and establish itself then it will go dormant for the rest of the winter. The problem with the extremely warm temperatures the last few weeks is that our barley and wheat have come out of dormancy and are growing like crazy. It looks great so that’s cool, but we are playing Russian roulette with the entire crop now. If the weather stays warm we should be fine and we will have a good crop come harvest time in June. The major BUT of this situation is this: If we have a cold snap come though it could really damage our wheat and barley and possibly kill it off. Seeing that we are just now in the end of February, a cold snap could very easily happen. Like MyFarmer says, “We will control the controllable’s and that’s all we can do.” Mother nature is most certainly not a controllable, so we will roll with the punches and see what she brings us this year.

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Well friends, I hope you have learned a little bit more about barley with me today. I also hope that you have a great weekend and that in the spirit of supporting farmers you have a beer or bourbon… if you’re into that sort of thing.

Laney