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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theodore

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.

sushi

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

2017: The Year of No Fun

MyFarmer and I have deemed 2017 The Year of No Fun. As the #littlehouseontheranch build moves closer and closer to fruition, we have decided that getting our savings account as packed as possible is of the utmost importance. We are giving ourselves $100 a month for anything “extra” we want. Going out to dinner with friends, coffee shop stops(ughhhh!), new tops just because they are cute, etc.

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We sat down one Sunday night and budgeted for hours. While not thrilling, it was a great way to find out where all of our money goes and where we can make cuts. We were also able to see what our finances would look like once the new house was built. Mortgage vs rent, renters insurance vs home insurance, gas vs electric, etc. MyFarmer and I have looked through this budget before, but Sunday was the first time we truly did it with purpose and that really changed our way of looking at it. Before it was just “we want to be able to put X amount in savings every month.” This time it was, “we want to put as much as humanly possible into savings every month!” And you would be surprised how having that mentality allows you to find places to save.

It always becomes devastatingly obvious that our (my) animals take up the vast majority of our money. There is a reason I spent the first year of our marriage “transitioning” into sharing one bank account. I didn’t want to give MyFarmer a stroke with the sudden onset of money hemorrhage that is horse ownership. But luckily I’m married to a very understanding farmer that will never say, “It’s me or the horses!” Because, well, I’ve had Theodore and Alvin longer than MyFarmer… I’ll let you draw your own conclusions there.

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These precious critters deserve all the pampering they get!

Besides the animals, the other area that we are throwing hundo’s at like we makin’ it rain in da club is eating out and groceries. And no, the irony of farmers spending too much money on food is not lost on me.

Growing up mom always packed a cooler for any road trip or for weekends at horse shows. We never ate out at home or on the road. (Unless dad was with us… ha!) Mom, I totally get you and your egg salad now. Eating out is ridiculous! Whether fast food or a fancy sit down restaurant like the Cracker Barrel, it’s a rip off… Side note – can anyone in the world spell restaurant on the first try? I sure can’t. Or the second or third for that matter.

It’s wasn’t just eating out costs that were nutso – the grocery total was also seriously disturbing. Two average sized human beings do not need that much food! I knew that buying in bulk is more cost effective, but once I really started looking I was shocked by how much cheaper things like meat are when you buy the larger amounts. For example: ground beef. Our local WalMart’s sells 1 pound of ground chuck for $3.96. The 4.5 pound tray of ground chuck is $12.83, which equates to $2.85 per pound. That’s a $1.11 per pound difference between the 1 pound and 4.5 pound sizes! The average american eats around 50 pounds of beef a year, so our house of 2 consumes around 100 pounds of beef per year. Just by buying beef in bigger packaging we can save somewhere around $111.00 per year!

So the next day I bought this giant package of beef and I had to figure out what to do with it. I wanted to go ahead and get it all cooked at once because I didn’t want to risk it spoiling in the fridge if I didn’t use it. (I’m really bad at remembering to set out meat the day before for dinner, so I prefer not to freeze raw meat.) I ended up browning 3.5 pounds of it, adding a large jar of spaghetti sauce and putting it in 3 freezer bags. 2 bags went to the freezer and 1 bag in the fridge for another dinner that week. The remaining 1.5 pounds I made taco’s for dinner that night. There was enough leftover beef for me to have two quinoa/black bean/beef burrito bowls for lunch this week AND for MyFarmer for dinner on a night that I’m not home. With 4.5 pounds of beef and one hour I made 7 meals. Cheaper, time saving, and convenient. That’s what I’m talking about!

I’m still in need of cheap eating ideas… and that’s where you all come in! Although this is the year of no fun I don’t want it to be the year of ramen noodles. Give me your dinner money saving hacks!

Have a great weekend friends!

Laney “No Fun Allowed” Snider

AGDay365 Week 4

Week 4 of 2017 did not disappoint!

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My BFF DanaDoodle has continued to make me cry with her awesome ads featuring Theodore and Alvin.
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My BFF SingerAmy’s parents have a lavender farm in California which is crazy awesome. I’m so looking forward to visiting out there. (Check them out on Facebook: Harmony Lavender) Turns out SingerAmy’s mom is also ridiculously crafty and artsy. She made me this block and it makes me so happy. She even has the correct cow sizes for my 3 girls!  
sunset
Gorgeous dashboard sunset. My favorite kind! 
lake
MyFarmer and I spent the weekend with some of our best college friends at a lake house and it was amazing. I have very few pictures because I was too busy loving every minute to have my phone around. I’m not sorry. 
babies
Our friends make super adorable children. Being an Aunt is seriously the best thing ever! 
sunrise
While I’m a gypsy at heart, there’s nothing like watching the sun come up on the home farm. 

We are now counting down the weeks until we get started planting corn! Everyone gets pretty stir-crazy this time of year. Oh and 11 weeks give or take until Delilah calves. Not that I’m counting…

Laney

Our Contractor Hates Us

Our house contractor, we’ll call him Bob, hates us. Not as people (I hope), but as clients. He’s never just come out and said, “You, lady, were sent strait from the gates of hell” but I get the feeling he thinks that on occasion.

As I said before, I dreamed up some “house plans” and Bob turned them into an actual blueprint – a very impressive skill, I must add. While the general concept of the house has stayed the same, we have had some modifications as we go. Actually, scratch that. I have completely changed the plans once… My bad. Then there was the great basement/no basement debacle, which lead to the walk-out or no walk out basement debacle, then the “I demand a soaking tub in the master bathroom. Make it fit.” talk. There was also that time I stopped him on the town square and told him I want a sink it my utility room, and we have changed our minds on the actual size of the house about 4 times. I’m willing to admit that there is a possibility that we (by that I mean I) have been a little bit difficult. To be fair, my changes are things that both MyFarmer and I agree on. This isn’t just ME being annoying and demanding… for the most part.

Last week Bob wanted to see the house site now that the old house is gone, and MyFarmer and I decided this would be a good time to show him our treasures! The barn wood, hand hewed beams, and old set rocks being our treasures. Bob’s exact words while looking wide-eyed at our piles of goodies were, “I’m not sure if “treasure” is the word I would use…”

Bob is accustomed to building large, gorgeous houses that belong in Better Homes and Gardens, not so much little ranch houses on the back 40. I’m confident he’s never had someone ask him to build a fireplace with “used” stones before or utilize 130 year old beams in the kitchen island. He may not know it yet, but he’s totally up for the challenge.

Poor Bob.

Yesterday Bob presented us with our finished house plans. And the first thing I did was decide that I need linen closets for the bathrooms. “What if we just move this wall a little?”

Poor Bob.

And then I noticed the opening from the loft to the living room/kitchen was quite large. “Bob, are we still going to be able to do a sliding barn door in this opening?”

“Well, I hadn’t really planned for that…”

“Okay so what do we need to change to make that happen?”

Poor Bob.

Please keep poor Bob in your thoughts as he attempts to build a house for the most hard-headed person on the planet and her husband. Tentative month to start dirt work: June.

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What do you want to bet that there will be a mum or two planted around the front porch? 

Laney

 

 

The Dreaded Resolutions

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It’s that time of year friends. That time where we come off the holiday high we were on and plummet back into the real world. That time where we decide that this new year is OUR year and make our lists of New Year Resolutions. We are going to get skinnier, smarter, work harder, and be even more awesome than last year! Well, hopefully anyway.

Here are my Resolutions – in no particular order:

1) Complete the couch to 5k program. Luckily my heeler dog herd is happy to join me in this endeavor.

2)  Get my gallbladder taken out so I can eat without fear again. Ha! That’s already on the schedule, but hey, when it happens it will be a resolution completed! #winning

3) On the agvocating front, I will be taking part in the #AgDay365 movement and post a picture on my social media accounts daily that highlight what’s happening in my farm life on an everyday basis.

3a) Post my pictures weekly on here so you all can see what’s going on too! (Or you can follow me on instagram: mumsandmoos or twitter: @LaneySnider

4) MyFarmer and I have decided that we need to break the cell phone addictions that we are guilty of having. That means that as soon as both of us enter the house in the evening the phones go in a designated spot and only get checked for phone calls or text messages. No social media. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m going to struggle. But I have acknowledged that I have a problem.. and that’s the first step, right?

5) Cut back on carbs. My plan is to have at least 1 meal a day that has no “bad carbs.” I’m realistic enough to know that I’m not going to go without noodles for any amount of time. Baby steps here people.

6) Continue to bust butt and grow our little mum ranch into the fall decor empire it is destined to be!

I’m sure my resolutions will change and evolve as the year goes on, but these are my basics that I’m really planning to stick to!

What are your resolutions? Anything fun?!

Let’s have a great year!

Laney