Last Minute Planting

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Slowly we tackle project around here.  Some projects are not done because of finances.  Some are not done because of time restraints.  Some are not done because we don’t know what we want to do.

The driveway was delayed because of finances but this year we finally had enough money to tackle that project.  I’m so glad about that and don’t regret that for a minute.  It seems that lots of these projects that we tackle have repercussions to them….we fix the driveway then we have to fix the grass.  It looks a bit scrappy right now but I am so excited as the grass is coming in marvelously.  Little did Hubby know that three weeks ago when he planted it that we’d have the PERFECT weather for starting a fall seeding of grass.  It’s coming in so thick and nice.

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We have the the side pull in space along the garage.  The kids park here when they come home.  After the cement was poured for the driveway we saw that we were for sure going to need to plant something along this fence.  It was at an odd angle making it hard to trim or manage with the lawn mower.  So at the beginning of October the nursery had a HUGE buy on get one free sale on plants.  I’ve bought plants late like this before and have had really good luck so I did it again.  I came home with 20 plants!!!  The problem, we’ve had trouble getting them planted as we’ve had so much rain.  Hubby helped me plant a few the day after I got them but time got away from us and the last 8 didn’t get planted.  From there, the rains came and it was too wet to plant.

Finally, it dried out enough but Hubby was in the field.  I decided that sore shoulder or not, I was going to have to get them planted and I did.  You can’t even see the plants we put in along the fence but trust me, they are there.  I can’t wait to see them next summer.  I’m hoping it’s pretty and full of blossoms.

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This is my flowers to the south from my back kitchen window to the end of the privacy fence. [Read more...]

Farming with a Smart Phone

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Every month I team up with U.S. Cellular and share a little about my Samsung Galaxy S8 Smart Phone. This is one of those posts.

It’s harvest time here.  Hubby is gone late nights and I’m not seeing much of him.  Every year I always think to myself, I’ve done this year after year.  Having him gone should be easier….but it’s not.  The first few nights when he is in the field I am guiltily excited.  I don’t have to make supper….I don’t have to work around his schedule.  I can do whatever I want.  I can sew to my heart’s content.  After two days of that, reality sinks in and I miss talking.  I miss interacting.  I miss his presence.  It has yet to get easier.  Well that’s not exactly true.  In some ways it has gotten easier.  Now days, I can at least talk to him on his phone.  I’m really thankful that advance in technology.

When we were first married there was no way for me to contact him during the day.  He would often call me on the barn land line phone and tell me he was going to the field.  I never knew when he was coming.  I’d worry if it was late…I’ve worry if he showed up early.  I had no idea when he was coming so I learned to half cook meals and then finish cooking them when he arrived.  But-some nights, he was so tired, all he wanted was sleep.  So then I had made meals and he didn’t even eat them.

Now that he has his own smart phone and things have gone so much easier.  Typically now he calls me a couple times during the day.  Then in the early evening.  In that last call he’ll tell me when he thinks he might be home and if he wants food or not.  That has been so nice for me.  What else is nice is that I can call him.  So often something comes up during the day that I want to talk to him about…you know things like insurance questions, if he needs anything in town…those kind of things.  Smart phones have made harvest less taxing.

Being able to communicate with their families isn’t the only way that phones are helping farmers.

Vehicle/Fleet Monitoring: The farm’s John Deere tractors have GPS technology that use U.S. Cellular’s network to provide remote monitoring, and access to the controls and input/output of the tractors. The farm’s team uses their iPads to access this information and track the location of each tractor, which allows remote support of the fleet.

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Irrigation/Soil Monitoring: They use a technology called variable rate seeding to take soil samples of the fields to formulate a “prescription” based on the data of the nutrients and pH levels of the soil. The prescription is then run by their fertilizer spreaders in the tractors which are automatically controlled to provide the correct nutrients to the right spots in each field, providing a greater crop yield. The irrigation system includes 11 pivots that are controlled remotely using an app on their smartphone or tablet.

Wearables for Goats: The goats are all fitted with radio frequency identification ankle bracelets. These bracelets are scanned with a wand device, so they can identify any of the 2,000+ goats. Helpful information such as the goat’s age, vaccinations and milk fat percentage can easily be looked up on their mobile devices.

Cheese Production: All of the goat’s milk, which is about 7,000 pounds a day, is converted into cheese. Since 2005, the Creamery has grown to a current daily production capability of 6,000 pounds of handcrafted fresh and aged cheese. Real-time access via their mobile devices to information about the quality of the milk, temperature of the coolers and tanks helps to make the process more efficient, leads to better quality and yields increased production volume.  Overall, Heartland Creamery has been able to cut cheese production time down by 67% with the use of smart technology that allows them to monitor and power operations remotely.

Having the technology cell phones offer does make things a whole lot smoother during harvest but I still will admit, it’s still a little lonely being a farm widow.

 

Have You Ever? Part Two

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Last week I posed the question asking if you have ever made all of the quilts in a single quilt book.   I did a little checking and discovered that I completely finished 7 of the 12 quilts in Bonnie Hunter’s book More Adventures with Leaders and Enders.  I also discovered that I had two more of the quilts from the book in progress.  After that post I got thinking that I might have more quilts done in Bonnie Hunter’s String Fling book so I set out to test my theory.  Here’s what I found….

Blue Skies:  FINISHED!  Read more about it here.

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Charlotte’s Baskets:  This wasn’t my favorite quilt until I saw a couple versions on Bonnie’s blog made by others.  I’d like to make it using one of their examples as inspiration.

Daylilies:  I’ve wanted to make this…I’m chicken of the applique though.  I’ve talked myself through it several times but haven’t jumped in yet.  I plan to one day.

Jamestown Landing:  FINISHED!  Read more about it here.

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Orca Bay:  FINISHED!  Read more about it here.

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Pfeffernuse: [Read more...]

The Kramer Kids Take on Houston!

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A post from Kelli–

When I was in college for teaching, we were required to student teach for atleast 2- 7 week periods.  We obvioulsy had the option to student teach in northeast Iowa, but there was also the option to student teach in Houston.  I couldn’t understand or even fathom picking up and moving to Texas for a few months to student teach.  There were so many ifs and uncertain things I was sure it would drive me about nuts.  I didn’t know who would ever want to do that–I learned who though–Karl!

When he initially told us taht he was going, we all had mixed feelings.  Being gone in a new area, states away was a bit scary, but it was very much of a learning opportunity for him.  Back in August, Kalissa had mentioned going down to see Karl, but I had kind of brushed it off and didn’t really think anything of it, assuming plane tickets would be hundreds of dollars and that we’d need to be gone for a week.

Just a bit later, she messaged me saying that she found flights that would leave Friday, come back Monday, and would be cheap–$120 ish for a round ticket–How could I say no to that?!?!?!  After a bit of extra investigating and removing the “frills” of  a carry on bag, refreshments on the plane, and not able to guarantee we would sit together, we ended up getting tickets pared down to $80.00 for a round ticket!

After pulling a few strings at work and getting those 4 days off, I was ready to head out!  We each were able to bring a personal item–like a backpack or smaller bag.  I also got a medical bag for my sleep machine.

We all met at mom’s on Friday afternoon.

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We ended up flying through Spirit which is a pretty no frills airline–But we aren’t really frilly people, so it worked out great.  I even impressed myself and drove up to Minneapolis with assistance from my GPS. Kayla knew of a secured parking lot that we parked in and caught a shuttle to our terminal.  Our flight was originally going to leave at 8:30 or so, but ended up getting pushed back to closer to 10:45 which was frustrating, but I’d rather be a bit late and have a functioning plane.

We got in at about 1:30 in the morning and Karl picked us up.  We had a little snafu as the hotel informed me that they didn’t have a room that we could stay in for 3 days and they were going to make us switch on Sunday, but I brought out my Jo Kramer voice that I had packed in my back pocket and the magically got it all sorted out.

On Saturday, we went down to Galveston as I hadn’t seen the beach.  We found an amazing seafood shack and had lunch–and boy was it amazing!  I’ve never been one for too much spicy food, but my cajun seafood platter was quite splendid!

After lunch we headed out to the beach which was pretty spectacular!

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It was so cool to just sit and look out at nothing.  Kayla and I wadded in a ways, but mostly spent the afternoon chatting on the beach.  It’s really great how I feel like my siblings are more my friends rather than just my siblings.  And even though we all have a similar background, I don’t know that I would have picked them all as friends unless they were my siblings, just because of age and location, but I am finally able to get together with them and be friends rather than just siblings.

After a quick stop at the hotel for a shower, we grabbed an Uber and headed down the road a bit for some Mexican.  It ended up being less than a mile, so the Uber was cheap, but it also meant we could walk home.  The guacamole was AMAZING!  I think lots of it has to do with the fact that they are able to get fresh produce more readily, but boy was it good.  I was worried that they were going to have to roll me out of there for a bit, but I managed to get out on my own.  And they had $3.95 margaritas!  We definitely took advantage of those.

On Sunday we vegged out for a bit and headed to the Galleria which is a huge mall!  The boys ended up dropping us off for a bit while they went to a gun show in Pasadena!  We did a bit of shopping and then stopped for sushi in the mall.  The restraunt was super cool because you sat down and then the sushi rotated around on a little belt and you just pulled off what you wanted.  The plates were color coded to know how much money they were.

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It took a bit just to see what things they all had rotating before I picked out a few plates.

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Kalissa was quite intrigued by the concept too!

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Kayla ended up ordering a few things off them menu that weren’t on the belt.  She ordered AMAZING terryaki balsamic grilled brussel sprouts!  Seriously they were probably the best veggies I’ve ever had!

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And of course we had to take a sister selfie after lunch!

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We really liked the sushi, but decided that it seemed a bit strange because we were more focused on grabbing the next plate and felt we weren’t able to have a good conversation, but we still had a good time.  We were also next to the ice skating rink so that was fun to watch too!

We grabbed some gelato while waiting for the boys to come get us and Kalissa to search for a necklace she had lost.

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After looking at this picture, I have decided that I officially have my mom’s hands–minus the thumb ring.

We grabbed burgers for the boys on our way home from this cool little burger shack underneath an overpass.

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We ended up back at the hotel for a quick little nap and refresher before we went out for supper.  The first place we went to was closed, but we definitely found another AWESOME BBQ place!

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I ended up getting a 2 meat platter and chose ribs and Czech sausage.  I also got 2 sides and bread!  Boy was it good!

After heading back to the hotel, we hit the sack a bit earlier as we had to be at the airport at 5:30 the next morning to head home.  Monday seemed to drag between the flight back and drive back home, but isn’t that usually the case?

It was a great trip and I’m glad that I feel like I can talk with my siblings as adults rather than the annoying little brother or sister.  It’s also really great getting so see how their lives are changing and their families are growing.  Karl was a great host and I was amazed with how well his driving skills are.  Without his expertise we would have probably stayed in the hotel and ordered out.

Overall–Would I do it again?  Absolutely!  Kayla and I were talking about maybe planning something next summer for just a few days.  I realized how much you can really fit in a personal item–and that really cuts luggage costs a bunch.  Will I be jumping at the boat to go anywhere soon, maybe not, but traveling is still in my sights!