Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Birthday to My Human Measuring Stick!

Happy Birthday to my human measuring stick! He is always willing to provide the friendly face of The County Line through photo after photo. He hears the inevitable, "Just one more!" and then knows he'll be there for at least two.
He patiently answers questions that I've probably asked before. (Secretly, I think he likes that we are doing our part to share the story of life on one Kansas farm.)

Randy is 59 years old today. We have celebrated 33 of those birthdays together, and I'm thankful for each one.
Photo credit - Julie McNickle - October 4, 2014
This year, we get to celebrate it with two little girls, too. Jill called me yesterday and asked, "You're still planning to bring cake, right?" Miss Kinley is already talking about helping Grandpa blow out his candles. Brooke appears to be less excited about the milestone, but we're hoping to get a smile out of her, too. 
Yes, there will be cake - German Chocolate Cake - Grandpa's favorite.

Then, tomorrow, there will be a Halloween parade at preschool and trick or treating with our little goblins. It may be Grandpa's birthday. But Grandma gets to share the gift of time with the granddaughters. That's better than anything tied up with a ribbon.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Turn, Turn, Turn!

There are lots of twists and turns between planting time and harvest.

A tale of two crops is playing out across the road. In one field, the wheat we've planted earlier in the month is having a good growth spurt after unseasonably warm temperatures this past weekend.

And another crop - the sudan - is being swathed. (For more on planting the sudan and why we use it for cattle feed, click on this link: TDN? BMR? It's Alphabet Soup!)

The guys had begun swathing the sudan before we got 3.20 inches of rain. The moisture was beneficial for the wheat crop, but it didn't help the sudan that was already swathed and left to dry and cure. We are definitely not complaining about the moisture. It just demonstrates the dichotomy that sometimes happens in crop production. What's good for one crop is not necessarily good for the other. But since wheat is our "bread" and butter (so to speak), we would much rather have good moisture for it.
On Monday, the guys were able to get started with the swathing again after a two-week hiatus. They finished it up yesterday afternoon.
The sudan was really leaning in the wind on Monday.

Can there be a "harvest" without a complication? The guys ended up having to change the teeth on the swather since it wasn't cutting through the thick stalks. (We had other complications when we swathed a neighbor's sudan this summer ... always an adventure.)
Now it's hurry up and wait. The sudan will take several days to cure before it can be baled. Then it will be ready to be served up for "dinner" for the cattle this winter.

I keep thinking about the Byrds' song, "Turn, Turn, Turn." There is a season for everything. And sometimes the planting and the harvest happen simultaneously on The County Line.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Kinley: What Is That About?

Hello, all! It's me again, Kinley, reporting from Manhattan, Kansas, the home of the Kansas State Wildcats. This past weekend, I went to my first football game of the 2014 season. I got to wear my cheerleading outfit for the first time. (My Grandma Kim got it for me from her friend, Vi, before I was even born! That was a long time ago, since I am 2 years and almost 10 months now.)

My Uncle Brent lives west of the stadium, so my family thought it was a good idea to walk. It was a long way. I walked myself for awhile, but then Daddy carried me. My little sister, Brooke, is too little to walk at all. So Mommy carried her the whole way. What a deal!
Actually, I wouldn't have minded stopping to play in the leaves for a little bit, but we had places to be and people to meet.
One of those people was Willie the Wildcat. He was at a wedding reception tailgate that I went to with my Daddy's family.
I was a little intimidated. It's not every day you meet a superstar like Willie. I must confess: My cousin, Hannah, seemed to like him better than I did.

Then it was time to go to Bill Snyder Family Stadium and find my Grandma Kim and Grandpa Randy. I wasn't so sure about all the people and all the noise at first.
I like music, so I liked watching the band. My Daddy has been working with me on my rendition of the K-S-U Fight Song, so I knew how to sing along."Glory into combat for the purple and the white..." and all that!
That Willie is one busy guy. He got the stadium in time to lead us all in the K-S-U Wildcats cheer.
Then he led the team onto the field before the game. I guess I'd run fast too, if all those big football boys were behind me!
I saw lots of flags. I know my letters, but I don't know what things spell. My Grandma said that they spelled out K-State and one said Family. Hey, I guess they knew I was there with my family!
I have lots of questions. My favorite way to ask about things is to say, "What is that about?"

I wondered about lots of things ...
What was about that girl carrying water bottles to those guys? (The referees).
What were those boys doing? (Playing football, kicking the football, catching the football)
What was about that boy running onto the football field? (He was getting the football tee off the field after kickoff).
What were those girls in blue doing? (Dancing with the band.)
Why was that guy wearing horns on his head? (He was a poor, misguided Texas Longhorn fan, my Grandma told me.) I told her he was silly.  She agreed.
When I saw the cheerleaders, I had to get out my pompon, too.
Daddy taught me how to say, "Good for a Wildcat First Down!"

I guess Grandpa taught me about that at the first game I went to in 2012, but I'd forgotten since then (even though my Mommy says I don't forget much).
My Grandma kept trying to take pictures of me. Daddy and Uncle Brent smiled. I was too busy shaking my pompon. Priorities, people! There was a game to cheer for!
Even if it's a loud place, it's a pretty fun place to be, I decided.
After the halftime show, I had to go back to Uncle Brent's for a nap. A girl has to get her beauty rest.
Brooke and Mommy didn't get to go to the ballgame. I'm sure they were glad to see me. Brooke had her K-State outfit on, too, but she didn't have a pompon. 
When Grandma got back to Uncle Brent's, she tried to get Brooke to smile. I guess Brooke didn't feel like it. So Grandma had to borrow a smiling picture that Mommy took. Maybe next time, Grandma!
While we waited for supper, I explored Uncle Brent's backyard. He has his own clubhouse, kind of like a Micky Mouse clubhouse. My Daddy and I went down there to explore.

We found a bucket of toys down there. Uncle Brent didn't even know they were there. You're welcome, Uncle Brent. Glad I could help. Everyone needs more toys to play with.

It was a good day in Manhattan, Kansas!
Until next time,
Kinley Marie

Monday, October 27, 2014

On the Zenith Road

I was on the Zenith Road even more than usual last week. As I zipped along to and from school to play the piano, this cottonwood tree in a CRP field caught my eye more than once.

But it seemed I didn't have time to stop ... until I took the time on a beautiful fall day with a pretty blue sky as a backdrop.

There's always time for beauty ... even when there's not time for a full blog post.

Friday, October 24, 2014

White Glove Treatment: A Recipe

Add the toppings you want: In this photo, it's corn chips, additional shredded cheese, green onion and chopped red peppers.
I've always found the Hamburger Helper mascot to be a little ironic. It's a grinning four-fingered white glove. I suppose the idea is that this "helper" is going to give me a "hand" with dinner. But why four fingers and not five?

And when I think about the "white glove treatment," I guess I'm envisioning something a little more formal than a hamburger casserole.

I've never bought a box of Hamburger Helper (or Tuna or Chicken Helper either), since I grew up knowing how to make a casserole from scratch. But, I must be an anomaly. Hamburger Helper was first introduced in 1971. In 2005, Food Network listed Hamburger Helper as Number 3 in its list of Top 5 fad foods of the 1970s.

When Jill told me she'd made a recipe called Homemade Crunchy Taco Hamburger Helper, I made a mental note, but I didn't rush to try it. But it had some good things going for it: I had a recommendation from Jill, and it was ready in 30 minutes. Another plus? It was from Iowa Girl Eats, one of our favorite food blogs.

So I tried it last week, and I will definitely make it again. I served it with a green salad. It was fast, easy and we had enough for leftovers, too ... bonus!
Homemade Crunchy Taco Hamburger Helper
Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats blog

1 pound ground beef
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 taco seasoning packet
1/2 cup of your favorite salsa
1 3/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup long-grain white rice (basmati or jasmine)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Toppings: Corn chips, salsa, sour cream, additional cheese, chopped green onion, chopped green or colored peppers, avocado, etc.

Brown ground beef with onion in a large skillet until the beef is no longer pink and the onion is tender. (You may also use dried, minced onion, if you prefer, or to save time.) Drain well. To the drained meat, add taco seasoning packet (without the water called for on the package). Also add salsa and chicken broth; bring to a boil. Add rice. Place a lid on top and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until rice is tender. Remove from heat and stir in cheddar cheese until melted. Place lid back on skillet; let sit for 5 minutes. Serve, allowing each person to top their portion with their desired toppings.

Notes:  You can use mild, medium or hot salsa to suit your taste. You may also use your own homemade taco seasoning, if you prefer not to use the packaged variety. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I Brake for Photos

4th Street Road, rural Reno County, near Huntsville

Yesterday, the administrator of Snapshot Kansas on Facebook posed this question:

Am I the only one who drives down the street framing things 
to see if a perfect photo is there for the taking?

When you ask that question of a bunch of amateur and professional photographers, you can imagine the responses. Here was mine:
How many times did I stop between home and Hutch yesterday (Tuesday) on 4th Street Road to take photos of the sunrise? Probably 4. Thankfully, it's not usually a busy road. (And, by the way, I still made it to the meeting on time.)
 I made it to that meeting on time.
I must confess I was a few minutes late to choir practice last night.
My rainbow photos didn't turn out that great (if I compare to others' renditions from last evening), but I was glad to witness it anyway.
And then I just had to stop again when I saw a neighbor's irrigation system silhouetted by a storm- cloud-studded sunset.

I was only a couple of minutes late ... really. Sorry, Mac!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Seaching for Gold at Quivira: Wordless Wednesday

Coronado is said to have come to this part of the world to search for golden treasure.
According to legend, he didn't find it.
He must not have been looking to the heavens during a fall sunset.
The golden treasure is there for the taking.
(Photos were taken Sunday evening, October 19, 2014, at Quivira.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bandwagon Fan?

They say confession is good for the soul. So here it is:

I am a bandwagon fan 
when it comes to the Kansas City Royals.

My son, Brent, is adamantly opposed to bandwagon fans. It irks him when people say they love K-State football and KU basketball in the same sentence. In his mind, you make a commitment: If you love K-State, you love them through thick and thin, win or lose. It's that purple blood of four generations coursing through his veins. Even though he won't concur, he'll respect a person more if they are KU fans full-time - whether in the shoulder-to-shoulder confines of Allen Fieldhouse or the half-empty stands of KU's Memorial Stadium.
Now, don't get me wrong, Sluggerrr. I don't dislike the Royals. I like them better than any other baseball team. But I'm not the biggest baseball fan in the world. (Now I have my parents up in arms. They are big baseball and women's softball fans and watch it all summer long.) I was a big fan of Stafford Recreation Commission baseball when Brent was playing. I was a big fan of softball when Jill was playing. I'm a huge T-ball fan, no matter who is playing, because of the cuteness factor. That pretty much wraps it up. Give me football or college basketball over baseball any day.
But, with apologies to Brent, I've definitely joined the Royals bandwagon during the playoff season.  We got to go to a Royals game in September 2013, though we didn't make a trip this year. So, as the Royals prepare to take on the Giants tonight, I pulled up my photos from our September 2013 trip to the K. (I can't believe the photos never made the blog. How did that happen?)
So, there I was, already on the bandwagon, when I read something that made me even more of a Royals fan. Despite all the crowns on the scoreboards and baseball caps, the Royals weren't named for royalty.
According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, the Royals were named for the American Royal, an annual Kansas City livestock show.
The team's naming was a nod to the city's heritage in the livestock industry. ... A now-deceased engineer named Sanford Porte proposed "Royals" in honor of what he called "Missouri's billion-dollar livestock income, Kansas City's position as the nation's leading stocker and feeder market and the nationally-known American Royal parade and pageant.
The article noted that some city folk would like to distance themselves from the whole "cowtown" image. But, as a Kansas farming and ranching family, it makes me like them even more.
Yes, I admit it:  I'm a bandwagon fan this year. But there's always next year. Maybe I can make the transition to true fan.

Christian recording artist Matthew West was already a Royals fan. He released a parody of the Lorde song last week. I'm guessing Matthew's version isn't getting played in San Francisco this week either: