Family Gatherings, Traditions, making Memories

This a farm post no doubt, everyone’s shoes, boots and everything else at the door ready to go outside for another cold crisp morning. The farm was blessed this year with our three sons, along with grand kids and grand dogs for the Christmas Festivities. It’s been a while that we all could get together, seems it gets harder and harder to match everyone’s schedules, but when we do we make up for all the time we spend away from each other. Activities for the grandkids was a highlight for them, coming to the farm gives them a chance to partake in a few events that they don’t normally do.  Feeding animals every morning and evening soon became “chores”for some, and others wanted to do more. Evening chores included bringing in the wood, so a fire could be started to keep the house cozy warm from the cold nights, stoking the fire with adult supervision seemed to have interest.  Day activities included, riding in the sled and being pulled by the UTV, the grand boys enjoyed hot roding in the UTV with the uncles, but the granddaughter would rather feed horses! (That’s my horse girl).  Roasting marsh mellows after a snow fight with all the brothers to warm everyone up after they declared they were wet in places they hadn’t know snow could get to! We even squeezed in making ginger bread man cookies and decorating for Santa. (that could be come a tradition) The whole family pizza party at the local pizza pub, video games, pool, and beer, except next time they can order their own because they didn’t like the kind I thought I was ordering! Late night card and board games became an highlight for the adults, while the grandkids watched movies, played and certainly fell asleep after playing hard on the farm.

With all we had going on, we still have traditions that doesn’t change for us, even when family doesn’t come it’s something we’ve been doing many years and will continue as long as we are able. My husbands grandmother was Scandinavian, we celebrate Christmas Eve with a traditional seafood dinner that has been carried on for many generations. As our family has grown, not everyone enjoys seafood so we’ve added a few other goodies for everyone to enjoy.  The one recipe that has been passed on to me buy Grandma Randrup along with her pan to bake it in is, Carrot Ring. This is a dish that her family made, and now we make it once a year at Christmas Eve, with shrimp, oven baked oysters, shrimp salad, oven baked rolls, veggie and cold cut tray and of course desert, cheese cake. The ingredients  is pretty simple as is the recipe, and to describe the taste would be hard other than to say I’ve enjoyed it for over 35 plus years.

Making memories is priceless, I’d have to say as I get older I find it becomes more important to me to spend time with family and do the things you really want to do in life. I enjoy spending time with my grandkids, watching how quick they grow up, remembering when my kids where that young and how fast they grew to be parents of their own. We seem to think we have so much time to do this and that and pretty soon that time is neither this or that, it just not. What I enjoy the most with them is watching my grandsons rodeo, and playing foot ball. I love to watch my granddaughter get excited about feeding the horses their grain, cleaning the horse sheds out or scooping poop as we call it on the farm.  I enjoy that because that is part of their heritage, of who they are.  Yes they have other things in life to do that doesn’t pertain to their heritage, but it gives them a map to always circle back to where their roots are.

I share this family recipe with you, it’s a tradition we make memories with,

Carrot Ring

2 cups finely grated carrots , 1 cup saltine cracker crumbs, 1 Tablespoon flour, 4 eggs beaten seperately

1 cup cream beaten stiff, salt to taste:

Mix flour with cracker crumbs add to carrots with beaten egg yolks.  Add whipped cream, Add beaten egg whites last. Pour into greased ring pan/mold (metal one used for generations). Set ring mold in pan of hot water for baking.

Bake at 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes. Invert pan on plate for serving.

White Sauce for Carrot Ring:

3 TBSP Butter, 3 TBSP Flour, 1 1/2 cup milk, salt to taste, cook over stove until thick.

Add salad shrimp, about two cups to sauce, pour over inverted carrot ring .


Enjoy, and make those traditions even If it’s popcorn and movies night.






Be thankful everyday and give thanks for everything

Thanksgiving has come and gone for another year, yet why should we not be thankful everyday and give thanks daily for everything?. I’d like to think there are more of us that think this way, is it selfish of me to think this? Maybe, but that’s not going to change my beliefs nor will I be able to change others. I know we are all super busy in our lives, time seems to go whizzing by the older we get so we just don’t take the time to think of all the things we could or should be thankful for.  I believe even the little things matter, what’s a little thing? depending on what you believe, most of us are thankful for our friends and family how about being thankful your vehicle started one cold and frosty morning not that I would wish that on anyone, but isn’t that a little thing compared others.

We are thankful for our health and our loved ones health, how about being thankful for the person who delivers your mail or your newspaper, or the neighbor that shared his garden with you or how about being thankful for the grocery clerk that packs your groceries just the way you like it.  I think of all these little things that are done for us by people we don’t know very well, like the older gentleman that held the door for you, well of course we say thank you to them but I’m thankful for them, because sometimes it’s the little things in life that turn into the big ones.

As we enter into the Holiday Season, we should think of others more than our selves and consider how thankful we are for everyday we are given to see our friends and family and share our lives with others. Giving thanks everyday for something, doesn’t matter what it is just something to lighten your day try it you might  surprise yourself just how many things you are really thankful for.

Happy Holidays everyone, today I’m thankful I have all of you to be thankful for.


What Monarch Butterflies teach us

Monarch Butteries are dependent on milkweed for survival, while there are several species of milkweed plants their need narrows with specific milkweed native to their areas. The plant is essential to their survival. Monarchs need more than milkweed to support them throughout the year. Adult monarchs need nectar to fuel them during the breeding cycle and to build up stores of fat which sustain them during fall migration and winter.  Over the last two decades, the western population of the Monarch that over winters spreading out hundreds of miles along the California coast has declined by 50 percent.

Historically, there were more than 400 overwintering sites along the coastal range of California; currently there are 221 known active sites while only 48 of these sites had more than 1,000 butterflies in 2015. The case of decline is varied: loss of breeding and migration habitat, herbicide and insecticide applications, loss or alteration of overwintering sites, climate change, and disease.

Plant it and they will come, our tell of citizen science of the Monarch Butterfly:

In 2015: The wonder of nature came within three weeks of planting just (6) young milkweed plants along with other native plants of the Great Basin.  The Monarch caterpillars were discovered munching away at the six young plants within weeks of planting. Up to (25) caterpillars of various sizes grazed on the plants turning them into just stems of what was once milkweed plants. Within a month’s time of planting nature once again prevailed and the Monarch’s chrysalis  stage started, daily the caterpillars would wander on to find “their chosen spot” to transform to the next succession of life.

In 2016: Additional milkweed was planted up to a hundred plants in (4) different locations, the Monarchs once again did not disappoint and discovered the plants, and so the cycle of life continued. This year we started population counts for caterpillars, butterflies, chrysalis, along with confirmed Monarch hatches.  Winter comes early in the Great Basin and the nights get cold, caterpillars were still struggling to get enough nourishment to transform into the chrysalis stage. The late caterpillars were “taken in” for captive rearing through their final stage to the chrysalis and into the butterfly. The Monarchs hatched within in a few days of each other, they were tagged and released in Redding, CA where it was still warm and the Monarch’s would have a better chance of reaching their winter grounds.

In 2017: The Monarch Project again didn’t disappoint, the Monarchs were a month late of returning due to storms along their migratory route back from their winter grounds. Getting a late start means being here later in the year when the weather changes to cold nights. About 12 chrysalises were taken in for hatching purposes, upon hatching they were tagged, released and told to fly fast to their winter grounds. We had a great year lots of stats collected; every year seems to be a greater success story. The project took a different direction this year, so it seems it became more of an education program then a science one.  You see the public started to notice our little Monarch Project which meant we were asked to speak at group meetings, we were ask to give tours of our project because who doesn’t want to see the Monarch life cycle “live” right? Imagine going into a garden and seeing all four stages of the Monarch Butterfly live in front of your eyes, butterfly, eggs, caterpillars, and chrysalis. It is truly amazing really.  So we step back from The Monarch Project because when we are asked to do education it turns into a whole other realm in which some believe is not citizen science. We enjoy the education concept and grasp the benefits we have seen from it, but we feel you can’t have science with out education. The Monarchs will still come; even though we are not there counting them, we have learned a lot in the three years, and will never forget the amazing things of life we have witnessed. What a blessing this ride has been.

What did the Monarch’s teach us; they taught us about what happens in nature, life and death, struggles for a species that has a lot of unfortunate issues to endure, how fragile it can be, yet at times stronger than you or I.

Our Motto: “Creating Habitat and engaging others in the Conservation of the Monarch Butterfly “

A big thank you to Tracy Hart for the wonderful photographs of the Monarch Project along with her dedication and passion to the project and the Monarch Butterfly.



DIY Bird Feeder

This is such an easy quick craft to make with your kids/grandkids or a gift for someone, add a bird book and some bird seed to make it special. When my father in law had to be placed into an assistant living home he didn’t like it very much. Living on a ranch his whole life then being in side all day really upset him, until he discovered the bird feeder at the window in the common room.  There he could see all the birds that came to the feeder everyday, that he enjoyed something for him to look forward to.

Fall is the time we start filling our bird feeders again here on the farm, birds are migrating through to their wintering grounds, we catch sightings of a variety of birds. Of course we have the locals that don’t migrate, we love to watch the quail come to the feeding area.


So here’s the instructions :

What you will need:

  • Plastic bottle, any size  (make sure they attach to the feeding tray) I discovered some are different sizes.
  • Bird Feeding tray/comes with handle (screws on to the plastic bottle) these can be purchased on line, you can get a three pack from Amazon.
  • Decorative Duck tape
  • Scissors
  • Something to punch holes in the plastic bottle

Rinse out your plastic bottle, let dry. Once your bottle is dry, you can add your decorative duck tape. I found it to be easier If I measured and cut the strips, then trying to fight the whole roll of tape. Make sure you over lap your tape some to keep moisture from getting between the bottle and the tape. Once you get your tape on you can twist your empty plastic bottle onto the feeding tray until snug. Punch two small holes about 1/2 to 1 inch from the bottom of the bottle and insert hanger tabs in both holes (youngsters will need help with this part). To fill with seed turn your feeder over and remove the plug from the bottom of the feeding tray by twisting. It’s best to use a funnel to fill the bottle with seed. Replace plug and twist to lock in place. DYI Funnel: take a plastic bottle and cut  about 3 to 4 inches from the top around the bottle to create a funnel for your bird seed, I keep mine with the seed so I don’t have to go looking for one. That’s it you have a DYI bird feeder and funnel, If you want to give them as gifts and you want to fill them with seed first, just fill you bottle with the top facing up (with out the feeding tray attached) place a piece of thin packing tape over the bottle top and replace with the bird feeding tray.

There is some great decorative duck tape patterns out there, you can get really creative with these. Make them in different sizes and shaped plastic bottles to create an adventure for the birds.

Happy Fall, hope you enjoy the DIY bird feeder and funnel craft.


Old Fashion Apple Jack Cookies

Fall is here on the Farm, and that means it time to bake. When the weather gets cool and especially when it rains, I get this feeling inside that says bake. It makes the house warm and cozy , it smells like home when you walk through the door. When my sons were young and husband was still working, I baked cookies every Sunday for lunches no matter the weather, because it was necessary. So I had to come up with different recipes, so no one got bored with the same old cookies over and over again. Well of course they had their favorites. Many years I baked on Sunday, then there was no reason to bake, things changed and everyone went off their own way, and husband I didn’t need cookies everyday, our bodies didn’t anyway. It was pretty hard for me to stop cold turkey kinda like giving up a tradition which for me is hard, giving up the old ways you were taught, and you were raised with. So I still bake whenever I get a chance or when I’m given fruit or vegetables from someones garden or when the holidays are here or to bake something special for someone, that’s my favorite thing to do.

But here’s the thing, which is very much ingrained into me, it has to be from scratch and made with old fashioned ingredients, more work hmm maybe depending on the ingredients but better for you. We all know to much sugar isn’t good for us, but is it the sugar? or how it’s processed?  How about how Grandma or Great Grandma or  Mom made it? Think about those recipes, simple ingredients right? They used what they had or grew or raised. I’m sharing one of my recipes that was given to me years ago that is my very fall favorite, actually it’s a go to recipe anytime, because it’s simple, basic , and yummy.



1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup shortening

1 egg

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp nutmeg

1 cup chopped, unpeeled apple

Directions: Cream together sugar and shortening. Beat in egg. Sift together dry ingredients, add to mixture. Beat until well blended. Stir in apples. Drop in the shape of balls on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. Makes 12 to 16 cookies.

Here’s a few changes I do, I don’t sift the dry ingredients together,  just mix together in a bowl. I don’t worry about making them into a ball, I just “drop” teaspoon size dough on the cookie sheet. I use a non stick sheet so no greasing needed, or sometimes I use baking sheets.  Sometimes the dough can seem a little dry when you are stirring it, I just add a little milk and stir.  This is a soft moist cookie fresh out of the oven, you just can’t eat one. I actually made them on Saturday because family came, I sent the rest home with the grand boys, they can run their calories off playing football , but yes I had to taste first we wouldn’t want to have someone eat something that tasted bad right?

I hope you enjoy the recipe, try it I know you’ll like it, and let me know what your think about one of my favorite Old Fashioned Recipes like our Grandma’s made.