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A Few Favorite Things: Looking Forward

A Few Favorite Things: Looking Forward

When working sheep with Border Collies every shepherd has a “look back” command. It may or may not be those exact words — or the most common whistle for it — but the intention is universal. Border Collies, by default, do very little looking back. […]

Dark Days Dinner: Tavern-Style Rump Roast

Dark Days Dinner: Tavern-Style Rump Roast

The solstice has come and gone. The days are lengthening, but the daylight comes in sluggish increments at first. The average daily temperature won’t start rising in earnest again until February and then only in fits and starts until about April. With the distraction of […]

The Great Winter Rollercoaster of 2016-17

The Great Winter Rollercoaster of 2016-17

Autumn held on longer than I anticipated this year, gracing us with forty and even some fifty-degree weather well into December. Winter peeked out for just over a week mid-month, but otherwise largely left us alone until yesterday. Now, as I write this, my fingers chilled from single-digit morning temps, I’m glad it did and even happier that, according to the weather experts, it will retreat again by early next week. We’ll be left with barely-below or just-above freezing temps for most of the rest of January, depending on the day. Which may not be the forties and fifties we enjoyed last month, but is a world of difference better than dozens of degrees below freezing. (more…)

Last Call: 2016 Lamb

The best and worst thing about living on a small farm is eating what you produce. It’s the best thing because the things you produce are so delicious there’s no comparison to their grocery store counterparts. You cannot buy meat, fruits and veggies like this […]

A Few Favorite Things: December 13

Read: I bought Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson years ago, read half of it and then stuck it up on my shelf. That’s to no fault of the book itself; I have a bad habit of half-reading books. I get bored quickly. The silverlining […]

2016 Farm-to-Fork Gift Guide: Kid Edition

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Know a preschooler who can’t get enough of building, constructing and creating new things out of simple pieces? Block Mates Farm Animals turn basic wooden blocks into imaginative livestock toys. If you don’t already have some, the blocks can be picked up separately for under $20.

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No farm toys gift guide could ever be complete without Schleich, and I am in love with the new Cow on Pasture set this year. Look at that little milker! Of course, if you’re buying for a kid who is already a Schleich aficionado, you can always add on to their set with feed accessories or a farm pets set complete with mini-donkey and wheelbarrow. And if you’re just introducing a child to the world of miniature farm figures, you can’t go wrong with the Farm Starter Set either.

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Soft, stuffed toys seem to go in and out of style over the years. Sure, most kids grow up with at least one or two special stuffed animals, but not every generation of kids grows up with a collection of cuddly playthings. Luckily for kids right now, the trend seems to be on the upswing. From giant teddy bears to soft versions of trucks, planes and food, stuffed animals are back in. Ikea is probably not the least of the reasons for this. Their bins full of pigs is one of my favorite places in the warehouse. Bonus: their stuffed toy options are super affordable! The 9-piece fruit basket, 14-piece vegetable set and pig are all under $8, and the chicken is under $4!

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There are plenty of things I’ve spent money on for my kids that I ultimately end up regretting, or at least acknowledging that it wasn’t the best use of that five, ten or many more dollars. For instance, just a couple weeks ago one of my kids convinced me to drop five dollars and some change on an elf costume for her guinea pig. Books however, no matter the cost, have never been one of those things. Even when they are long since outgrown and passed along to some other kid, I have never and will never regret spending on books. Every year, every member of our family has at least one new thing to read under the tree. These are a few of our farm and food themed favorites for kids.

Pancakes, Pancakes! by Eric Carle
The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen by yours truly
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban
Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola

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For the endlessly curious kids on your list, those who have veterinarian goals, or those who just love seeing the inner workings of things, TEDCO’s 4-D Anatomy puzzles are a blast. And they double as display models when they’re not in use. There’s a cow, pig, chicken, horse, dog and several non-farm models such as dolphins too.

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An aquatic herb garden atop a Betta fish aquarium, brings two of the greatest benefits of a farm-upbringing inside: responsibility for another living thing and peak-fresh food.

The Best People Love Food: A Survey

“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” Harriet Van Horne was a wise woman. I have always been a supporter of American farmers broadly speaking; not just of our farm or of farms like ours, but of […]

On Generational Farming

People farm for many reasons. For the pride in producing food. For the lifestyle connected to the land. To make a living. To provide for a family. To build a legacy. I’ve contemplated every single one of them over the years, perhaps none more than […]

Living The Last Meal

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The thing about marriage in that stage of your lives where you’re both busy in the familial sense of having kids who are of a certain age and involved in every extracurricular under the sun, and the professional sense where you’re both able to chase that thing that fulfills you, is that you have to carve out time for one another wherever you can. For The Man and me, many times, that means Sunday afternoons. What once were date nights have long since morphed into date days. Lunch and browsing a favorite store or catching a movie, or some combination thereof — if we’re really feeling ourselves maybe even all of the above.

Such was a date day a few weekends ago when, over complimentary chips and salsa and a couple not-so-complimentary midday drinks, we got to talking about an article I’d seen earlier in the week. The author had compiled a list of last meal requests made by death row inmates. And the food was one thing, but at least one of the inmates had, apparently, also requested an experience: to eat their last meal while watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy. And so we got to thinking, not only what food we’d want for a last meal but what kind of experience we’d want if nothing at all was off limits.

For the record, The Man would want steak and bacon and mashed potatoes, plus cake and a cold beer and, probably, he said, to go sky diving. Because why not? Later, he added that if he had more than just a couple hours, perhaps we could shoot a little together and go off-roading with the kids.

And I would go for injera with spiced yellow peas and pickled cabbage, samosas and curry, pumpkin pie and an iced tea. And I would want to spend every last second exploring far-flung places by day and evenings here on the farm, watching the livestock and drinking a cold cocktail beside The Man, kids and dogs.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about that conversation; about how, when we set out to dream up our ultimate hedonist heaven-on-earth, what we came up with wasn’t so far off from how we spend our lives now. But even more than that how, if we really set our minds to it, we could live that last meal — both literal and figurative — more often than not. I think we will.

The All-Black Wooly Bear and Other Signs of Winter

Every year I watch the wooly bears. They say the more black on their bodies the harsher the winter to come. There’s no proof they know what they’re doing. There’s even evidence that they probably do not. I watch anyway. I watch to see how […]