Dust In My Coffee

Dust In My Coffee

Monday, November 30, 2015

Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?

We are getting hit by the fourth snow event in two weeks and I just had to take advantage of the wet snow by building a snowman.    I don’t remember the last time I made a snowman because when it snows here my time is spent moving the snow out of the way.    My husband is especially sensitive to songs like “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas  and “Let it snow” because snow means more work.  
While many folks enjoyed Super Bowl XLIX in
the warmth of their homes, we were moving snow
from early in the morning until late that night. We
called it Super Snow Sunday.  We finished in time to
 enjoy the last few minutes of the game with a bowl of chili.
When we get a snow event there are several jobs that have to be done.  First the roads must be cleared so that the feedtruck and vehicles can get around.   The next job is getting the bunks clean.  We have a very nice piece of equipment that makes this job much easier than when we had to scoop them all with a shovel.  The bunk blower works well unless you get really wet snow.  Really wet snow usually melts or it has to be scooped.  

After the cattle are fed and cared for we get to work removing the snow or piling the snow that is in their pens.   The snow eventually gets hauled out so that the pens can stay dry.  When we get wet snow we keep the cement areas cleaned off and put some type of bedding material down so they have a dry place to lie down.

Steve is box scraping snow from the cement pads.
I have always been amazed at how quickly cattle adjust to weather changes.  They seem to adjust the quickest to cold weather.  Cattle are often seen running around in the snow, kicking up their heels and playing like children.   My favorite sight to see is when they are laying down soaking up the warm sun on a cold day.

Cattle enjoying a dry place to lay and sunshine.  The metal
windbreak provides additional protection from cold winds.

One of our favorite meals to enjoy on a cold day is chili soup.  I have a recipe that has gone over very well with our family and when used at large gatherings.  Here is my recipe: 

Game Day Chili
2-pounds ground beef
1-46 ounce can tomato juice
1-27 ounce can Bush’s Chili Beans
2-tablespoons chili powder
2-tablespoons onion flakes

Brown the ground beef with onion flakes. Turn crock pot on high and pour in tomato juice and beans.  Drain hamburger and add to crock pot. Sprinkle chili powder on top and stir mixture.  Leave on high for 1 hour or low for several hours. Toppings that go well are shredded cheddar cheese with crackers or corn chips.  It is a tradition in our community to serve cinnamon rolls with chili soup. 

I am joined by my husband, Steve, granddaughter, Ella,
daughter, Ginger and son-in-law, Casey for a chili supper.

My husband enjoyed my snowman made of snow, insulators, caps from spray cans and whatever else I could find around our shop.  Our dog also enjoyed time to play in the snow!   Having a playful attitude helps to relieve some of the stress weather can bring! 
Our Bichon, Zoey, loves the snow and after playing it looks
like she has a snow moustache! 
Do you have snow?  Doyou wanna build a snowman?  How about a nice, hot bowl of Chili?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Giving Thanks: Children, Church and Chores

When I was growing up my chores were pretty basic and I am sure I wasn't very thankful for them.  I made my bed each morning and as an oldest child I often helped younger siblings get ready for school.  I grew up a city girl, so I did not have the experience of farm chores until I married my husband, Steve.   What I learned as a new farm wife was that making my bed would be the easiest chore of the day and could be skipped with no harm done.  On the other hand, farm chores need to be done every day including Sunday and holidays.  

A photo of my family in 1967! Left to right are: My dad, Linda, David,
Me, Aunt Kathy (my mom's only sister), Sharon sitting on my mom
who is pregnant with my youngest sister, Sandy, and Dave.

Maintaining a grateful attitude for those chores can challenge the most dedicated among us.
As I was adjusting to my new role as a farm wife we also started a family so I was learning to be a mom as well.   I was a typical new mom with anxiety about being a good mom and knowing what to do to care for a new baby.  Five children later I am grateful for each and every morning I awoke to those little voices that matured into adulthood.  Just as I learned that each child had a unique personality I have also learned that each farm has unique qualities.   

I am holding our oldest daughter, Ginger.  My mom is
holding our second child, Scott.  Photo taken in 1986.
As our children grew my role working outside with the cattle increased.   This placed more responsibility on the older children to help their siblings.  One of the goals I had very early was to start the morning with a soft voice--no yelling or shouting to get kids moving.   I added instrumental music along the way to put me in a more relaxed and grateful mode.   While I sometimes felt guilty working outside when the kids were in the house I also observed how much they learned to care for one another. 

Ginger is holding new sister, Emily while Scott looks on
wondering what this little one means in his world!

Jeff is holding our youngest, Kim, as she takes a nap.

Perhaps the craziest morning of the week was Sunday morning.   If anything can go wrong on the farm it will often happen on a Sunday or holiday morning.   We needed to have cattle fed, checked and treated if needed in time to make it to Mass by 10:00 a.m.   Our older children often helped the younger ones get dressed so I could quickly change from feedlot clothes to church clothes.  It has been important to us to show our children the importance of worship by dressing in a manner that shows respect.   

I am walking through the cattle to look for any signs of one
needing extra care.   Feedlot cowboys walk or ride pens each
and every day no matter the weather to take care of cattle.

Our most vivid memory of getting ready for church was on Easter morning in 1991.  The state was working on the highway that runs right along our farm/home.  We went from a surfaced road to dirt and in the spring that became mud after rain.   That Easter weekend we had quite a bit of rain.  Our mini van was parked a half-mile away on the nearest corner with a gravel road.   After chores we all climbed into a tractor with our Easter clothes on, there were 6 of us at that time, and rode the tractor to the corner to get to the mini van.  

Getting our kids to pose with their two cousins
was a challenge for this Easter photo. 

Another more recent memory involved getting to Mass for Christmas.  We had a blizzard the Christmas of 2009 that put much of northeast Nebraska in a lock down.  On Christmas morning the highway to town had snow drifting faster than the snow plow could keep it open.  We utilized our snow blower that fits on the tractor to open a path to Dodge.   The biggest drift we met happened to be at the entrance to Dodge!   We were only one of two families that made it to mass that morning and enjoyed the chance to thank God for one another and the technology that allowed us to get to church.

This is a bunk blower.  We use this to clean snow out of the
feed bunks so that we can put the feed in a clean bunk.

Our children have grown and started careers and families of their own.  Now it is just Steve and I to get ready for church after chores.  As I scramble to wash up, fix my hair and get ready to go I often think back at those precious moments of having little ones running around, getting their breakfast, doing their hair, ironing their clothes, etc…   I continue to learn to be grateful for those memories and for the beautiful life I have as a cattle feeder and farmer.

This is our town of Dodge.  You can see the Coop, many homes, the St. Wenceslaus Church steeple and the Dodge
water tower.  We are thankful for the many families that live in and around the Dodge community.

The children have grown and become amazing adults--some with grandchildren for me to spoil.  As the world faces new fears I am so very thankful for the freedom to practice my faith without fear.  I hope that you have many reasons to be grateful for the blessings you have been given!  If you need a Thanksgiving activity to share your reasons to be grateful try this.  Here is my try at a gratitude haiku:  
Children Church and Chores
Thanking God for all these things
Gratitude runs deep