Back to school blues

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Every year at this time I get the blues.  When summer ends and school starts the thoughts that go through my mind drag me down.  Another fun summer of carefree kid days gone, another family summer vacation done until next year, the kids will be another year older next summer, I WILL BE another year older next summer….and so on and so on.  How can anyone be happy at the return of the school season???? I LOVE my kids being home!!!

In carrying on the tradition of feeling sad and sorry for myself for a few days, I hid myself in garden chores, baking and barn work.  Slowly I am returning to the happy person I usually am, but it’s a battle that’s hard won!!

Here are a few recaps of the wonderful times we had this year so far:

Tons of time sleeping in our cabin and spending time as a family

A GREAT book for summer reading, bonfires every night for heat in the spring and to cook on…and a few date nights on the boat!

Fun in the barn with friends, farm work, canning, late night selfies and sandboxes were all enjoyed.

So goodbye Summer of 2016 and welcome Fall and Winter.  Only 13 1/2 weeks until Christmas Vacation…..but who’s counting….me…yes me me me!!

 

 

Farmers Market Co-Op

Our Island started a Farmers Market Co-Op about 3 weeks ago.  They asked all of us who farm or homestead to be a part of it and sell some of our goods.  It’s on Mondays after work hours for 3 hours.

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We missed the first week but participated the second week by putting up a table and selling some of our homegrown vegetables, canned goods, baked goods, and the Teen Queen’s handmade clay jewelry, lipsticks and sugar body scrubs.  We had about 50 items and came home with 3.  I’d say it was a success!

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This week we have a few more harvested vegetables to add to the table as well as some of our home baked Breads, Peach Skin Jelly, Dilly Beans and more canned peaches!

A farmers market is such an awesome opportunity to support your local farmers and meet people who like to homestead.  I always give out our Facebook site and this page so anyone who wants recipes to try their hand at adding a little of the homestead life into their busy lives can try it.

I am asked over and over again how I fit all of this in with working, kids sports almost every night, barn chores, animal care, and still finding time for boating and spending family time visiting all of the summer happenings in our area.  My answer is always…you just make the time.  Whether it’s baking, canning, or making jewelry, providing anything for your family that is homemade is such a great feeling.

Here’s to hoping today’s market is a success like last week!!!

 

 

 

Summer Vacation

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Designing Fort Snrub

A few weeks back a neighbor was throwing out an old privacy fence and their trampoline.  Now mind you, they considered this garbage.  As soon as the kids were aware of what was happening, they considered it finding gold and exactly what they needed for a new fort in the woods.

 

They carefully loaded all of the panels onto a trailer and drove them back to their “work” area.

They cleared the perfect area for their fort by driving 4-wheelers and doing donuts in a small area to break down the brush.  Then it was time to drag the trampoline with the 4-wheelers into place.  This is the roof of the fort which is underneath.  The top will be used to place a pop up tent when they want to sleep out there.

They collected old materials from our farm and our neighbors and laid them out so they knew what they had to work with.  They could hardly contain themselves on the eve of our trash night and rode the golf cart down our street to collect more treasures.  They found a few balls, an old hose reel that has been rigged to raise and lower a flag, chairs, old tires and most recently they picked a huge deck umbrella.

It was time to begin construction.  They nailed some boards around the frame.  This is holding the tarp in place which covers the trampoline.  Even the little ones were helping clear brush and design the area.

Some bamboo flooring and old throw rugs have been collected and added as a floor until they can garbage pick another tarp.  The tires are perfect as extra seating!

The name was chosen for the fort using the name of the family who donated the fencing and trampoline spelled backwards.  I thought that was a great choice and very imaginative.

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This picture was Sunday night as they were driving the two and a half miles down our street looking for more treasures for their fort before garbage day. They wear their bathing suits as it’s been so hot here and they can work on the fort, drive up and jump in the pool and head right back out.

These kids have had very little television or computer time as they are up and out the door to work on the fort, swim, and play in the woods!  It’s hard to force them to work on mandatory book reports for the upcoming school year as they are so busy planning, building and having fun.

This is what summer vacation is all about in our world!! 🙂

Veggie Tips

We eat a lot of vegetables in our house.  Raw, grilled, steamed, chopped, pan-fried, over the open fire, you name it, we eat it that way.

I thought I would share some tips we have learned along the way as well as how we (ok it’s me really) sneak more veggies into our family diet.

Keeping sliced carrots and celery in our fridge in some cold water to make them last longer is a trick I do every week.  I keep blue cheese and peanut butter around so they can dip them instead of just munching on them raw all the time.  Works like a charm!

Chopping up all types of vegetables and storing them in baggies or small containers that are visible when opening the fridge is another way of getting the kids to snack healthy as they will grab them when hungry.  I keep some ranch dressing along with the blue cheese for these types of vegetables.

Storing my own homemade salad in a bag is another easy thing for kids to grab.  I have a few different dressings to choose from and also red wine vinegar as that’s the Teen Queen’s favorite to top off her salad.  You would be surprised how quick a kid will eat salad if they only have to grab a handful out of a bag and put it in a bowl!

Keeping things colorful is inviting to all.  In our chicken stir fry I use all different color peppers and also for when I am making a vegetable side dish for dinner.  The kids call these dishes “rainbow vegetables”.

Kale chips are another great crunchy snack.  You can do the same thing with brussel sprouts by peeling them and baking.

Topping veggies with sauce and cheese is a great alternative to pasta.  This gets scooped right up in a matter of minutes!

Filling them with meat and rice topped with sauce…who could resist!

Loading up your crockpot meals with all different types of veggies that soften, add flavor and break down into the gravy is sneaky!!  This is how I hide parsnips from the Boy!

Grilling is huge in our world.  I will grill many many vegetables in the summer.  Seasoned with a little olive oil, garlic powder and salt and cooked until charred and soft.  Every vegetable is delicious!

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And last, keeping fresh corn around and teaching the kids how to microwave their own for 4 minutes and then peel allows for a delicious, no string ear every kids loves!

I have shared recipes on this blog (you can find them under the “Categories” section) as well as on our Facebook page: ChasenChanceranch for all of these pictures.  If you can’t find one, just ask!

Life Happenings

Oh the busy hustle and bustle of May.  Gardens need tending, animals need more care with bug protection and heat protection, the yards require time, the kids sports and end of the year testing and parties.  It seems to be a blur!

We have had some downtime and these pictures walk you through how you have to find the blessings in the busyness!

The man and I worked on getting the boat ready for the season.  We put it at the dock after launching it and watching the sun set!

My sister and her husband came to visit.  The kids had a great time dipping their legs in the Niagara River and chatting with Auntie Ann after a family cruise.  Even Gram and her hat had fun!

We had some extremely warm temperatures for a few days.  The animals were set up in their houses with fans and frozen water bottles to lay against.  Bailey did venture out for a bit of grass in the shade but preferred the comfort of the fans in the cooler barn.

The hummingbird tree is set up and some beautiful flower baskets were purchased!

The pool was opened and used immediately even though it was very cold, meals were cooked on the open fire and some night swimming and tightrope walking ended an evening or two.

The Teen Queen celebrated her 14th birthday with a full face snorkel she wanted!  She and 2 close friends are saying goodbye to junior high and were welcomed into the Class of 2020 at their new Catholic High School of choice.  She received the highest scholarship rewarding all of her hard work for the past 3 years.

Gardens were planted and a few things were harvested.

My little great nephew and my Godson are buddies even though they live miles apart.  They love spending time collecting eggs for breakfast, frogging in the pond, playing fort and just being farm boys!

On the sports front softball was put on hold for a few weeks due to a break to the fingers from a hit by the ball on a swing from the Teen Queen.  Never fear, she’s back in the game. The boy’s team won medals for their hockey tournament and he is enjoying being able to play for his jv soccer team at school.

And some big bonfires and smores have been enjoyed before sleeping in the cabin which is set up for it’s first summer season on the farm!  More of the cabin in the next post…..

 

 

 

Farm Happenings

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Blue and Oreo finally enjoying a sunny day

Spring on the farm is one of the busiest seasons.  It is the time for cleaning up the winter mess, prepping the gardens for planting, fixing up all of the animal pastures/enclosures that have weathered the winter snow and ice, starting all the seedlings in the greenhouse, spring hockey, jv soccer, varsity softball, work, meals, and trying to have a bit of fun inbetween.

Here are some of the things we have managed over the last week (not including meals which will come in a later post 🙂 :

If you have followed along with my Facebook Page…Chasenchanceranch, Disco foundered in January and has had a rough road over the last 2 months.  With aggressive treatments he is on the mend thankfully and even had his mane trimmed as he always has for riding and showing.  Even if he never makes it on the trails again, we are beyond grateful to have him comfortable and not in pain.

The baby chickens coop has been completely netted over the fencing and roof so there is never another hawk issue and they can be free and go in and out of their coop at will.  We have owned this property in my family since 1972 and have never had an animal lost to a hawk until this year.  It was a very hard life lesson for the kids to handle, but we are doing all we can to ensure the safety of all the animals!

The bunnies have a new run attached to their house so they can get some exercise and play during the day.  Meanwhile the “Chicken Brigade” travels the yard making sure to keep the bugs to a minimum!

Pops of color from the spring perennials are starting to liven up the grounds while some plantings are thriving in the portable greenhouse.  If you do not have primrose in your garden, I suggest you invest in some.  They are a very hardy spring plant and have beautiful green leaves during the summer when not in bloom.  They bloom in early fall as well and add great color.

Spring sports are underway.  The boy (in red) at his first jv soccer practice, the Teen Queen practicing catching and throwing for Varsity softball, and the boy playing in a jv hockey game.  Our nights are busy after work for sure!

The cabin is being set up for the summer to live in, the awning is up on the house for some outdoor dinners, morning coffee when not sleeping in the cabin, and rainy days when we play board games under it.

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This robins nest is in the eave of the cabin.  We have to leave it as it contains these cute little eggs and a hopeful robin mommy!

And with the nicer weather comes our weekend bonfires to end the nights.  This was the “big one” as we burned up all the branches from around the yard and a few pallets.

And that’s part of the week in review!  Tonight is the first Varsity softball game…Go Lady Eagles!!!

 

Egg Muffins

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I know these are all the “rage” now. In our world, they are a perfect breakfast for our busy mornings. The kids can microwave them themselves for a change from cereal, I take one to work in the morning, and the Teen will usually heat one up for a snack if we have them.

I make them many different ways and today was ham, onion, kale and cheddar cheese. I use a jumbo size muffin tin and it’s the perfect serving.

I used 6 eggs, 1/4 cup of skim milk, and as much of the fillings as you like.

Spray your muffin tins well, layer the ingredients in, scramble the eggs and milk and pour over the filling. Sprinkle on the cheese.

Bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes or until cooked through. Let cool slightly and tip onto a plate and cool completely before placing in bags and freezing or refrigerating.