Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pumpkin Palooza by Kinley Marie

Hello everyone. It's Kinley Marie.

I'm back at home after a week at Grandma and Grandpa Fritzemeier's farm on the County Line.  I'm telling you: They kept me busy. I had to go home just to rest up.

One of our excursions was to the Bethany Church of the Nazarene's Pumpkin Patch in Hutchinson. It was the only pumpkin patch that Grandma could find open on a weekday. (We had the K-State ballgame to go to on Saturday. Priorities, you know.)
That was a lot of pumpkins in one place - big ones, little ones and teeny-tiny ones. They had some funny shaped things called gourds, too. How ever would I decide?
Grandpa tried to help. I would carry one to him, then I'd try another one. I got my exercise carrying them from one place to the other. If I'm looking for a part-time job next fall, maybe I can seek employment at the pumpkin patch. I was pretty good at moving inventory.
Once we got the pumpkins home, Grandma and I decorated two of them with cat faces. My Mommy asked my Grandma how much work I actually did on arranging the kitty faces. My Grandma told my Mommy that it involved a lot of teamwork. She was right.
I also decorated one of the pumpkins with the butterfly stickers I got when we went to Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. (That was another of our field trips which I will have to tell you about another day.)

As you know, today is Halloween. I will have to wait all day long to go trick or treating. Bummer!
I tried on my costume for Grandma and Grandpa last weekend when they took me home. As you can probably tell, I am an owl. I wonder if my friends and my teachers will recognize me at the costume parade at day care today? I'll be the one in wings.
I am not sure whether my Dolly will be going trick or treating with me.  But I guess I'll take Mommy and Daddy for sure. Grandma says she sure wishes she could be there, too.
Happy Halloween, everyone! I hope you get lots of candy. I think I'll have to watch mine like a hawk - or maybe like an owl - since I'm guessing my Daddy might like a piece of candy (especially if I get Starbursts). But I know it's a good thing to share. At least, that's what everyone keeps telling me.

Until next time,
Kinley Marie

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Teed Off

I know some people get teed off if you remind them of another birthday. But Randy's not one of them, especially if one of his gifts is golf related.

My gift to him is an 8-by-10 print of a photo I took on the Number 5 hole at Colbert Hills in Manhattan. In 2011, the course substituted purple sand in the five bunkers that form the 'Cat's paw guarding the front right portion of the green. Pretty appropriate for the course that's home to the K-State golf teams, don't you think?
Even better, he didn't hit the purple sand - just admired it.
Randy is at a Kansas Wheat meeting in Dodge City today, so he will have to wait for his German chocolate cake and his photo until he gets home. (The surprise will be safe, since he won't be searching the internet on his flip phone.) But we already celebrated with a round of golf at Colbert Hills on October 21 while we waited to pick up Kinley.
Randy has golfed there several times, but he's always wanted me to ride along. This trip, he got his wish. It was a brisk fall day on the course, and the Flint Hills were dressed in their fall party clothes.
I was not the only spectator watching Randy and the other golfers.
By the end of the 18 holes, the clouds were rolling in, giving the course a whole new look.
Even for someone who doesn't understand the fascination of chasing a little white ball around hill and dale, it was a beautiful afternoon.
Happy Birthday to the best husband a girl could have ... even if we don't see eye-to-eye on this golfing thing.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Making Memories

Kinley - Fall 2013
Memories tumbled down faster than the autumn leaves last week. We picked up Kinley in Manhattan on the evening of October 21 and delivered her back to Topeka after the K-State ballgame last Saturday.

Toddlers are busy. We crammed a lot of living into the five days we had Kinley here on the County Line. But, just in case you're counting, I am about 23 years older than I was the last time I had a toddler around here. It's taking me a bit of readjusting to return to life without a little helper.

Kinley is her own little person. But I guess it's just natural that I see some of Jill in her. I wanted to recreate a photo I'd taken of Jill when she was close to Kinley's age. My current model didn't want to sit. (And I didn't really want her to, since we were dressed for the K-State game.) The vine on the house is no longer as lush as it was back in 1987.
Jill - Fall 1987
But I still see some similarities between mother and daughter - 26 years later. Family and our very DNA are as entangled as that vine that clings to our house.
And I'm thankful.
More to come from Kinley's adventures on the farm!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Cue the Marching Band!

At the Stafford Oktoberfest Parade, October 4, 2013
Cue the marching band! Beat the big bass drum! This girl is coming to stay for the week.

I have a feeling my blog posts may be few and far between. I may be lucky to get a photo or two posted so her Mommy and Daddy know she is doing A-OK with Grandma and Grandpa on the farm.

Here we go! Things are going to be a little different around the County Line. Grandma may need a vacation next week. But we can't wait!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Snapshot Kansas

I belong to a Facebook group called Snapshot Kansas. Amateur photographers like me and even some professionals post favorite photos.

This beautiful place we call Kansas is our only model. No other states need apply. This week, one of the site administrators issued a new challenge, and Mike will give us an optional Tuesday Task. For this first week, the challenge was to shoot the nearest grain elevator in a creative way.

When I left home Wednesday evening to head to town for church choir, I was watching the sun sink in the western sky and was betting myself whether I'd get to Zenith (5 1/2 miles away) in time. After braking rather quickly to avoid a mama deer and her twin babies, I made it.

I've tried before to capture the image of the elevator silhouetted against the sunset sky and also reflected in the co-op's pond by the Zenith Road. I was never happy with it ... until Wednesday night. It sure didn't hurt that it was a beautiful sunset (not that those are in short commodity)!

If you like photography and love the beauty of Kansas, check out Snapshot Kansas on Facebook.

I took a couple of other elevator photos last month because I liked the sky. I love these sentinels of the Kansas prairie, so I didn't need a Tuesday Task to prompt me to click away. Big surprise, right?
Taken 9-23-13 - Kanza Co-op, Stafford South Branch, Stafford, KS.
Taken 9-23-13 - Kanza Co-op, Stafford North Branch, Stafford, KS.
Happy Friday, everyone! I'm off to help gather, sort and haul mama cows and their babies from the Ninnescah Pasture. Hope for no broken toes, broken wrists or broken anything!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Right Here

File photos from children's time at church.
 "Where is God?" Pastor Ben asked during children's time last Sunday.

"He's in heaven," said one of the children gathered at Pastor Ben's feet.

"Yes, that's right," Ben affirmed. "Where else is He?"

And one little girl took her pointer finger, gestured to her side, and said, "He's right here."

I was sitting in the choir loft. And shivers went down my spine as I watched her finger point to her side, just as if God were sitting there, cross-legged beside her, on the green carpet in the front of a church in Stafford, America.

I've remembered it every day since." (See why I'm a fan of children's time? I love Pastor Ben's messages, but he got a little help last Sunday from an 8-year-old, brown-eyed beauty.)

I thought about it again yesterday morning, as I read more of the book, "Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?" by Philip Yancy:
"Let the imagination roam, placing yourself in the presence of God, affirming that since God is everywhere, He is here now. Think of Christ as standing at your side, sharing your experience."
That little girl didn't need a book to tell her a truth she's already discovering in her life: God is right here ... right by my side.
Our lives may be broken. But, God is like a farmer who takes the broken pieces of a barbed wire fence and splices them together again so we can hold firm.
Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22
Sometimes, that's the sermon you need to remember all week long. (And, to be fair, I'm still thinking about Pastor Ben's message about the 10 lepers, too. It was a pretty great Sunday morning.)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Autumn Chopped Salad

The calendar is quickly moving into soup weather. I'm all for that. I love homemade soup on a chilly fall day. In fact, I made this season's first pot of Vegetable Beef Soup this past drizzly Monday.

But I also love salads all year 'round. A few weeks ago, Jill told me she'd tried an Autumn Chopped Salad from the blog, Iowa Girl Eats. (Jill's father-in-law, Alan, steered both of us toward this blog awhile back. Good advice!)

I've now made this Autumn Chopped Salad three times, including once as a side dish for a ladies' luncheon, where it got great reviews. The last time I made it, I served it as a main dish salad by adding seasoned grilled steak. Randy is glad to eat salad as long as he gets some protein to go along with it. Even though the original recipe had bacon and it provided good flavor, that's not enough protein to make it a main dish at our Kansas-beef-raising house.

Pears and apples are favorite fruits for the fall. Throw in some dried cranberries, feta cheese and, of course, that bacon, and it's a winning combination. The dressing is a blend of purchased poppy seed dressing and balsamic vinegar. Yummy - no matter the season!
Autumn Chopped Salad with Marinated Steak
Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats blog
6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
3 slices center-cut bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
1 pear, chopped, with skin on
1 apple, chopped, with skin on
1/4 cup peanuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup Poppy Seed Salad Dressing (more or less)
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar (more or less)
Grilled seasoned steak (about 3 ounces per person)

Cook bacon until crisp (I used the microwave.) Cool and chop. Grill seasoned steak to desired doneness. Set aside to rest. 

Combine romaine lettuce, pear, apple, peanuts, dried cranberries, cooled bacon and feta cheese into a very large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine poppy seed dressing and balsamic vinegar to taste. Toss salad dressing with salad, coating well.

For main dish salad, put dressed, chopped salad onto serving plates. Top with sliced grilled steak. Serve immediately.

This generously serves 2 for a main dish salad. As a side, it serves a big crowd.

  • Even though I'm a vinegar lover, Randy is not. And we both preferred the dressing with only 1 tablespoon of the balsamic. 
  • Next time I make it, I might try this homemade dressing, Orange Vinaigrette, which I've used on other main dish salads.
  • I've used peanuts every time, but it would be great with walnuts or pecans, too. 
Today, I'm linked to Wake Up Wednesdays through Wichita blogger Ashley's Kitchen Meets Girl. Click on the link to see what's cooking. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Closed for Business

The flag continues to fly at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, in spite of the government shutdown.
I'm not a politician. And I don't want to be. But I think Congress could use a few Mom skills.

My kids undoubtedly got tired of hearing my oft-repeated phrase: "Be the bigger person." But I also know for a fact that at least one of them has now appropriated the phrase on occasion.

I'd like to know when the words "negotiate" and "compromise" became dirty words. I am not a fan of the extreme left. But I'm also not a fan of the extreme right. Can't we find a little middle ground?

As the government neared a shutdown a couple of weeks ago, Kansas Big First District Republican Congressman Tim Huelskamp had this to say:
“I’m from a district that pretty much ignores Washington. If you say government is going to shut down, they say, ‘OK, which part can we shut down?’ ”    Tim Huelskamp
I also heard Huelkamp on a newscast, saying that no one in Kansas would notice if the government shut down. I didn't think he was right then. And I don't think he's right today.

Let's ask federal employees in Kansas whether they miss their pay checks. Let's ask the towns where they spend those paychecks whether or not they'll notice an impact if those families curtail their shopping for necessities and entertainment. Will their churches notice if they can no longer put anything in the offering plate?

Does it matter to Kansas farmers that there's no current Farm Bill on the table? Yes, I'd say it matters a lot for decisions about crops and marketing.

As a Kansas Association of Wheatgrowers E-update said last Friday:
Two weeks into the government shutdown, effects are beginning to become noticeable and notable across the agriculture industry. USDA remains virtually shuttered, with only minimal staff. The Department is not issuing regular reports on crop production and exports that are considered essential to the continued functioning of ag markets. Negotiations with European countries on a much-anticipated trade agreement have been put on hold. The shutdown is having a particularly harsh impact on USDA wheat research. Research test plots are unable to be planted and greenhouse work has come to a standstill. 
It may not be the Grand Canyon or the World War II Memorial, but the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge is closed here in my own backyard. The people who work there haven't been paid for two weeks. (They are certainly not alone. But they are some of the people with whom I can put a name and a face to this government shutdown and its impact on communities all over the country.)
I think maybe the politicians need to come and visit here in South Central Kansas. (Of course, we'll have to take down the barricades, but I'm all for that.)
Maybe they should sit on a bench and breathe in some fresh air to clear their minds.
Maybe they need to experience Quivira during the golden hour, just before sunset. Maybe things would look a little different then.
Maybe a Kansas sunset would generate some new ideas or a new attitude - kind of like the light bulb illuminating a cartoon character's thoughts.
Maybe if they then turned a different direction, their perspective would shift and they could see things from another angle. 
And maybe they would soar like birds, instead of plodding along like lumbering Elephants or heehawing Donkeys.
It might be worth a try, don't you think?
(Quivira dusk and sunset photos were all taken in late September, before the government shutdown. I didn't cross the barriers, just so you know.)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Hay! We'll Take Some Rain

I don't know who first said,  "Rain, rain, go away! Come again some other day!" But I guarantee it wasn't a farmer ...

Even if the farmer has hay down.

We heard a sprinkle on the roof during the night, but it didn't last long. We're hoping that wasn't our only shot for rain today. With the 2014 wheat crop in the ground, we could use a nice, gentle rain right about now.

Yes, we do have some hay down. Its quality is adversely affected when it's rained upon. But this bonus fourth cutting of alfalfa will survive getting wet. Some well-timed moisture is much more critical for the emerging wheat crop.

After finishing up with wheat last Wednesday, Randy swathed some alfalfa fields on Friday. 

This is the first year since 2010 that we've been able to swath a fourth cutting. For the past two summers, we were in an exceptional drought, so there wasn't much hay to swath for a first or second cutting, much less a fourth cutting. It already feels like a bonus.
The windrows aren't as plentiful as they were earlier in the summer. But, I'm sure a farmer did say that other old adage: "Make hay while the sun shines."

The past two years, we've sold off our feeder calves before the winter because we didn't have enough hay or feed to nourish both the mama cows and the feeder cattle.
Randy was able to put up another 29 bales yesterday. It's like putting away a few extra dollars in the bank account for a rainy day.
Oops! There's another one of those sayings that a farmer didn't come up with. We'll be glad to take a rainy day rather than a drought-stricken one. Bring on the rain!