Saturday, June 30, 2012

Never Underestimate

It has been OVER 100 degrees every day this week in Eastern Oklahoma. It is hot and dry out there.  Yes, out there.  Can you see me pointing out the window?  We have been camping out in the house or finding some cool (temp wise) places to go.  The movie theater, library, mall, bowling and our favorite yogurt shop.

Yesterday when we were pulling out of the drive way, I looked over and and couldn't believe my eyes. One of our rose bushes had 3 HUGE roses on it.  They were absolutely stunning and I was just so shocked that they were there.  I figured that since it had been so hot that the rose bush wouldn't be blooming in this heat but apparently I was wrong.  Never underestimate God's creations.


Friday, June 29, 2012


I also have a RECIPE or cooking blog.  Trying to keep up with the two can be challenging but I am bravely attempting it.  It is a mixture of our favorite family recipes and then all the crazy recipes I am finding on Pinterest.  I am so not a gourmet cook but just a country cook who is trying to please a my taste-testing family.  Luckily I only have one picky-eater (Squirrel) but since I have been making more varieties of meals, he is being more open to trying different things.  FINALLY.  Sometimes I do post some of the same things on both blogs likes the post about shucking corn.  If I think it applies to both then I will post on both but I try not to do it too much.  So enough of my rambling.

To check it out . . . go to Ten Thumbs Up  

Flashback Friday

Sharing a hotdog with "Papaw"
Squirrel is ALMOST a 10yo and I just can NOT believe it.  Surely, someone is playing a mean trick on me. His love for country life is almost as big as his love for reading and Legos.  The boy has very little fear when it comes to the outdoors. He loves fish, work cows, go for long walks in the pasture and bonfires.  Here are some flashback pics from when he was a 2yo.  He and Kyle's parents made a bonfire at the big farm and then roasted hotdogs.  I love that my kiddos get to have special times like this with their grandparents.

Isn't he a cutie!  I just realized that in this pic . . . he is freckle-less.
They have taken over his face now.

Ahhhhhhh, Reasor's

Heirloom Tomatoes @ Reasor's
Living in the country is not ideal for someone who loves to shop.  We are very limited in my little slice of Eastern Oklahoma.  It is a 30 min drive to ANY grocery store other than our small local  store.  Don't get me wrong, I love our local store (oh and we do have a Dollar General too) but it is very limited on the products they carry.  My absolute favorite grocery store in our area is Reasor's.  Ahhhhh, Reasor's.  Just the thought of walking into Reasor's makes my heart flutter.  They have the best selection of fruits and veggies.  Even the kiddos go crazy in the produce section.  I let them help me pick out what they want and we always try to grab some things that are out of the norm for us.  Like our trip yesterday.  We picked out an artichoke (yes, only one cause they were $3 each) cause Squirrel wanted to try it since he likes spinach and artichoke dip and hummus.  I told him how you pull off the leaves and rake the meat off with your bottom teeth and he thought that was the coolest thing ever.  Can't wait to cook it to see if likes it or not.  He is my picky eater so I am happy to spend $3 on ONE artichoke to see if he likes it.  By the way . . . every week I do a "Reasor's Match-up" for the Money Saving Queen.  I match up all the coupons that are available for the products that are featured in their weekly ads.  I generally post the match-up for that week on Tues evenings and you can find them here (check the dates to make sure you are looking for your particular week).  

Here are just a couple of pics I took at the store.
Not sure what this is...some kind of melon
Bell Peppers

Sorry kiddos...Not enough room in the cart for JUNK FOOD
Too many fruits and veggies

Monday, June 25, 2012

Instagram Fun

Playing with Instagram again. This was made using the InstaCollage iPhone app.

We went to the big farm over the weekend while they baled hay. They ended up with approx 35 round bales.

Hank the Cowdog Musical

Profile PictureWe are BIG readers at our house . . . well, at least the kids are.  Squirrel constantly has his nose in a book and the twins are following suit.  One of our most favorite series of books is "Hank the Cowdog" by John R. Erickson.  This weekend there was a musical based on the book "Hank the Cowdog and Monkey Business" presented by the Tulsa Repertory Musicals.  I took the kids to see it and it was HYSTERICAL and the kids had a blast.

One reason why we enjoy the series so much is because the main character "Hank" and his goofy friend "Drover" live on a ranch.  Hank is Head of Ranch Security and each book is about his adventures on the ranch with his friend Drover.  So you can see why we are fans cause we can totally relate to a lot of his adventures.

Here are some pics from the production . . .

It was performed as a radio show

Hank and Drover "marking" the mysterious red box

Hank and the monkey

Cricket & Monkey with Hank the Cowdog

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Whack-a-Squash Bug

We went out to the garden and found our worst nightmare . . . squash bugs.  We hate those things cause we love our squash and zucchini.  Cricket and Monkey were hunting them which is a difficult thing to do cause those are some very smart bugs.  They will run around the plant to avoid you and you have to be really fast to catch them.  C & M ended up catching 7 of them and Monkey was putting them on the concrete and then whacking them with a pool toy.  I told him he was playing whack-a-bug.  Another way to get rid of them is to put a board by the base of the plant at night and then flip it over in the morning and they will be under it.  Then remove (KILL) them. I am sure there are other ways but that is usually what I do.  How do you get rid of squash bugs?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-A

If you didn't know, each year Chick-fil-A has a customer/cow Appreciation day.  To honor their customers they will give each customer who is FULLY dressed like a cow (from head to toe) a FREE combo meal and if you are PARTIALLY dressed will receive a FREE entree.  It will be Friday, July 13 this year.

We are TOTALLY going to do this this year.  I am even going to try to get my mom to do it too cause she LOVES Chick-fil-A and she is pretty much willing to do anything for the kiddos.

Go HERE for more information and let us know if you are going to participate.  And YES, I will be posting updates and pics of our progress and of our FREE meals on the Appreciation day.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Enough Said . . .

Flashback Friday

Look at that SMILE!  This is Kyle holding his Grand Champion Lamb trophy and his Breed Champion trophy from 1985 (he was 10 yrs old).  Kyle and his 2 brothers were in 4-H and FFA thru out their childhoods.  Their bedroom at their parents house (at the big farm) is FULL of ribbons, trophies, medal, embroidered chairs, FFA coats and pictures of their accomplishments in showing livestock.  They showed lambs, pigs, steers, heifers and bulls.  For Flashback Fridays, I will be posting other pics from their showing experiences.

When I was 10 . . . I was skipping school, flunking and getting in fights at school.  But that is another story.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Oh Shucks . . .

June means fresh sweet corn in our area.  We have a local fruit and veggie stand where you can get watermelons, cantaloupe, onion, green beans, corn, squash, zucchini and so much more.  The man who runs it is a retired Agriculture teacher from our school district so you know his fruits and veggies are going to be well taken care of.

We stopped by there the other day and bought 2 bushels of bi-color sweet corn which is approx 50 ears of corn.  The kids love corn-on-the-cob so I decided that they needed to see what it takes to go from fresh picked corn to corn-on-the-cob on their plate.  So we took the bushels outside to the backyard, pulled up our chairs and started shucking.  I taught them how to pull the shuck down and remove the threads then I chopped off the ends and put them in the freezer bags.  They did really good and had it all shucked within an hour then we went in and cooked some for dinner.

If you have never shucked corn don't be scared to do it.  It is super easy (remember my kids can do it) and it is nice to buy it fresh and freeze for future use.

1. Pull the shucks down
2.  Pull/remove the threads 
3.  Chop off both ends
4.   Place in freezer bags (DO NOT WASH)

Pull the shuck down
Pull/remove the threads
Chop off both ends and place in freezer bags then freeze

If you get your corn with the shuck on , be aware that you may come across worms that have gotten in and started eating the top of the cob.  Don't worry though cause you will be chopping off the ends of the corn anyways.  Here is a pic so you know what to look for and hopefully it wont spoil your appetite but it is life!

Then when you are ready to eat, just boil the corn in water for 10 minutes.  We usually just smear it with butter and salt.  How do you eat corn-on-the-cob? Are you a typewriter going side to side or do you go around the cob?  Just wondering.

This Is What Happens . . .

When your cows open the chicken coop and lock themselves in.

Muddy mess
Poor victims
During this last Christmas holiday, we spent a couple days at the big farm.  We came home late one night and when Kyle was unloading the car he heard a strange noise and went to investigate.  That was when he found 3 of our heifers in our chicken coop.  Some how they were able to open the door and shut the door behind them.  How . . . we have NO idea but they did and as you can see they made a MUDDY mess in there.  The chickens were all in our smaller chicken pen (that used to be the chicken tractor) and were trying to stay out from underneath the heifer's feet and they were starving since the heifers had knocked over their feed.  We figure the heifers were in there at least 24 hrs.  You just never know what will happen around here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What's the DIFF Wednesday ?

This is a pic of a sunset at the big farm
On Wednesdays we will be posting "What's the Diff" to hopefully answer your questions about farming. We have people asking us questions all the time like What's the difference between a heifer, cow, steer and bull or What is the difference between a brush hog and a finishing mower.  If you have any questions similar to this, please leave a comment and we will address it for you.

So this week we are going to answer . . . What's the difference between a FARM and a RANCH?

A FARM is any amount of acreage that is used to raise and produce food as in produce, grain and/or livestock or "agricultural production".

It is a tract of land, usually with a house, barn, silo, etc, on which crops and often livestock are raised for livelihood.  It is also where land or water is devoted to the raising of animals, fish or plants like a pig farm, oyster farm or a tree farm.

A RANCH is a large tract of land, together with necessary personnel, buildings and equipment for rearing livestock especially cattle.

It is also an establishment maintained for raising livestock under range conditions (free range).  A ranch is in the practice of raising grazing livestock such as cattle or sheep for meat or wool.  Ranch is also a term used for the method of raising less common livestock such as elk, American bison or even ostrich, emu or alpacas.

We hope that helps explain the difference between a farm and a ranch (honestly, Kyle and I weren't sure of the difference until we looked it up).

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


One of my most favorite things about living in the country and about our house is that when we bought it, it had a clothesline already in the backyard.  To say I love it would be an UNDER exaggeration.  I mainly throw our towels, sheets, blankets, work shirts and jeans on there.  Sometimes my only problem is that I forget that they are out there.  I also use our patio chairs for drying undies and socks but only if it is not too windy cause I really don’t like scooping them out of our pool. 

Domestic peace = a clothesline
Just looking at pics of clotheslines make me smile. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Grass Fed Beef

We recently read that the price of beef at the grocery store is going up to $5.30 in an article on Yahoo!  Can you believe that?  We raise our own cattle for beef and have even done it for the purpose of selling to others and for our personal use.  The Money Saving Queen recently posted an article about How to Buy Local Grass-fed Beef by another blogger that was awesome and very informative if you have never bought beef like that before.  Kyle and I got to talking and we came up with some more information that we would add to Once A Month Mom's post.

You can also find our guest post on Money Saving Queen.

Grass Fed Beef: Other Things to Consider

Lately a lot of articles have been written about buying beef by the quarter, half or whole from local farmers.  We have personally raised Angus –cross steers for our own use and to sell beef to others. Here are a few other things we thought you should consider to help you have a good experience with your purchase.  

Breed of Cattle - First is the breed of cattle.  Unless you want mainly hamburger, you need to avoid dairy breeds (Holstein, Jersey, etc) as they are bred for milk production and not high quality steaks and roast.  In most meat departments you will likely see something like "Certified Angus", and even fast food chains have jumped on the bandwagon with Angus burgers.  Angus is a breed of beef cattle that has been marketed very well, but you don't need to have the mindset of Angus as a requirement for good meat.  All of the beef breeds will produce good meat, some may take longer to get into good condition.

Conditioned Well - You also want to try to look at the live animals to make sure that they are conditioned well.  If you have never looked at cattle before, there are a couple of things that you need to pay attention to.  To start, make sure that animal is conditioned well, you basically don't want the animal looking like a long, lanky teenager.  Another thing is to look down the top of the animal.   You don't want the back of animal to like a “V”.  A flatter back is a sign of better muscle, and thus bigger steaks.

Grass fed versus Grain fed - Another topic is grass fed versus grain fed.  Grass fed means that the animal has not been given any grain/feed.  Grass fed beef has more of a yellow color to the fat versus the white fat that you are used to seeing in meat market.  Typically we allow our steers to run on grass and hay until 60 days before processing.  Feeding the steers grain for 60 days allows for the meat to get marbling without excess fat.

Aging the Meat - One key to tender meat is aging to meat while hanging on the rail.  Aging is not as common anymore and you may have to request that the processor do this.  Typically a carcass can hang for a minimum of two weeks and can hang longer, but the processor must check the meat daily to make that it does not dry out.  If you will pay attention to the menus at higher end steak houses, you will likely see "Aged Meat" somewhere on the menu.

Typical Average Cost - The costs can vary somewhat.  A typical average cost to purchase the beef from the farmer is $2.75 per pound hanging weight, with average rail weights around 600lbs , making a full beef around $1,650 to buy the meat from the farmer.  Grass fed purchase costs normally are going to be higher because it typically takes longer to get the animal to processing.    Processing costs will depend on how you have it cut and how you have it packaged.  We like to have our roasts and steaks vacuum packed to reduce the risk of freezer burn on the meat.  Processing fees will run around $0.60 per pound hanging weight, or $360 for a typically 600lbs rail weight.  Other fees that you need to ask about and maybe charged are kill fees and possibly a skinning fee depending on the processor.  Grass fed cost is going to be higher because it typically takes longer to get the animal to processing. 

Where to Find Beef – There are several ways to find beef for sale.  Every spring and fall 4-H and FFA youth show steers and need to sell their current show animal to purchase another one to show the next year.  You can contact your local County Extension Agent or the Argriculture teacher at your local school to find animals that are available.  Farmers will also run ads in the local newspaper and on Craigslist.  You can even check with your state or local food cooperative.  Two sites that you can search on is Cooperative Grocer Network and Coop Directory Services Listing.  For the state of Oklahoma, you can search the Oklahoma Food Cooperative

Additional resources
Retail Cuts of Beef – chart showing the different cut of beef
Buying Beef for Home Freezers – article by the Oklahoma Cooperative Services

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Annie's Love Language

Miss Annie Oakley

We really have enjoyed having Miss Annie surround our house with love.  Her love language is without a doubt “touch”.  She LOVES spending time in Kyle’s arms and sitting on my feet.  She totally thinks she is a human child except my real human children don’t drag EVERY cattle bone they can find in the neighboring pastures into our yard.  Yes, I have a cattle cemetery in my front yard thanks to Miss Annie.  I guess she thinks OUR love language is “gifts”.

Annie has gifted us will ALL these cow bones.  Some are old and some still have fresh meat on them.  Yes, I said fresh meat.  This dog is nuts. We thought there was only a couple bones in the yard but when we started picking them up to dispose of them, we realized there was enough bones to build a full skeleton.  Teeth and all. Can’t wait to see what our next gift will be (do you hear the sarcasm)?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Flashback Friday

So today is Friday and I have been going thur all of our disc that have pics on them which are mainly from when the kids were babies.  I found a couple of pics and thought I would share.  These particular pics are of Kyle's dad at the big farm putting out hay for the cows with his helper Squirrel who was about 2 at the time.  This is a nightly "chore" as we call it.

Leaving a legacy
Feeding the girls
Squirrel helping to put out hay
Throwing hay off the back of the truck
Gathering the baling net and putting out hay with sweet Sadie Sue

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Excuse This. Just Playing with My Phone

Today I saw that there's a Blogger app for the iPhone. So while my kids play in the pool and I play with my phone, I thought I would give it a try and see how well it works. This entire post was done with my Blogger app.

Here's some pics I took the other day using Instagram and made the collage using PE-Fotolr.

Pretty cool, huh?

Have I mentioned yet how much I LOVE my iPhone 4S? I could totally do a commercial for them.

So there you go. I guess it worked .

Pests in the Garden AGAIN

So we have had horn worms on the tomato plants and now this morning I found these on the tomatoes . . .

Do you see all the gnats or maybe they are fruit flies.  I don't know but I do know they need to COME OFF!

Thanks to the advice from several friends, I ended up mixing 1 part Dawn dish detergent to 5 parts water and sprayed the heck out of the tomatoes and the plant.  Then I sprayed all the plants (peppers, zucchini, squash and all the other tomato plants).  By the time I was done spraying everything, I went back to these tomatoes and the "things" were still there but dead.  Thank goodness!

*UPDATE:  I went outside to check the garden this morning and noticed that the stems and leaves that these bugs were on are wilting now.  I clipped them all off and got rid of these tomatoes.  Hope those nasty things don't come back!

Picking Blackberries

Today we met friends at the Owasso Christmas Tree & Berry Farm and picked blackberries.  We had such a great time and ended up with 6lbs of blackberries and our friends had 5 lbs.  I think that by the time we got home though, we only had 5lbs cause Monkey kept eating them in the car.  We will definitely go back next year but we will remember to take GLOVES cause they were not thorn-less blackberry bushes.  Now I need to find my recipe for blackberry cobbler . . . YUMMY.

*Go to my other blog Ten Thumbs Up to get my blackberry Cobbler recipe.

A bucket was about 2 lbs
Promise I'm NOT eating any blackberries

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Need for Young Farmers

I found this article/story by Newson6 about Oklahoma's Agriculture Industry Faces Need for Young Farmers.

"We are losing our farmers," Emily said. "I'm not going to lie and say kids in kindergarten are raising their hands saying they want to be farmers."

I guess she has never met our children.  They are very eager to help us around our land and at the big farm. We are so thankful that we have the opportunity to raise our children on a farm.  They are learning vital life-lessons about how to garden, how to raise chickens and cattle, how to bale hay and how to maintain tractors and other farm equipment.  Our oldest son is also now in 4H just as Kyle was and wants to start showing goats.  The skills and responsibilities that he will be learning will help him in every aspect of life. We are hoping that it will be a catapult  for him and the younger two.

It is our PRAYER that our children grow up wanting to be farmers and pass down these skills to their children.