Sep 28, 2011

Horse/Cowgirl Party to celebrate her 4th Birthday

This year Campbell picked a Horse and Cowgirl themed party. Although only 4 she was quite specific as to what she wanted at her party. She wanted "Chipper" Aunt Jessie's horse to give rides to all her friends, a hay house and hay rides. Living in the country none of these were out of the question. While it may have seemed extreme to some of our more urban friends this was a very cost effective party.
This balloon wreath was easy to make
and can be reused.

 Chipper was the more difficult piece to the party. We do not have a horse and we probably never will. Matt is not a horse lover in fact really does not like them. My sister, aka Aunt Jessie had to trailer Chipper over to our house from the farm he lives on about 5 miles away. Campbell and Parker love Chipper and usually ride him once a week. They are both developing a love for horses which I do not think Matt is very fond of. He did a wonderful job and truly loves kids. Campbell was excited to let her friends ride and some of them even trotted. 
This is Parker riding on Chipper. He does a good job for being
two.  He likes to go fast.

From horse rides we moved on to feed the bottle lamb and our guests loved feeding Lily the bottle lamb. We of course hand sanitized and then moved on to dinner. It was a very specific dinner per the birthday girl. She wanted hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, homemade apple sauce, beans and chips. I almost forgot to mention that the drink of choice was apple cider. We served Hirsch cider, one of my favorites. It can be purchased at Schacht's Farm Market if you do not want to drive to Chillicothe.  It would not be dinner at our house without dinning in the pasture. The sheep and donkey were happy to pay our guests a visit while they were eating around the fire.

The old water trough is not used as a
serving table for our pasture dinners
and parties, very useful!

The kids are getting ready to eat dinner.
This table was made by my grandpa and I
out of old wood from our barn.

What party would be complete without a cake? I have traditionally made my children’s cakes because I enjoy baking not decorating. I was out of town for a few days so I decided to order the cake from a friend who has a cake business. Queen Anne's Cakes are tasty and look AMAZING. This cake sparkled, twirled and had cookies and candy on it.
Campbell is getting a taste of the frosting. She said it was good!

Looks like these ladies had a fun hayride.
After cake we went on a great hayride through the corn and into the woods. We played in the hay house and used florescent necklaces to light the way through the tunnels.
It was such a fun party for us to host. It was a great chance to provide some fun experiences for our friends children and bring back some simple fun. This is our kid’s everyday life and the party made me realize just how lucky my children are to live the way we have chosen. We shared food, fellowship and a little about agriculture. We talked about the difference between sweet corn and field corn, how to make homemade apple sauce and many comments on my alternative use to an old water trough.

Anna climbs out of the hay house army style.

This is most of the group. This is us taking off.
I hope they all made it back.

Campbell during dinner...serious I
am sure she is reflecting on her party.

We had a boot pinata. This was a hit!

The ice cream cone made quite a mess but we
had to make sure all the kids went home
as sticky as possible.
We served cake pops and we used them in a
pair of old boots to serve as the center piece.
My aunt took this fun photo of the hayride through the barn door.

Sep 13, 2011

CommonGround Lets start talking about Food and where it comes from!

This is a great read that was published in the Buckeye Farm News.

Three Ohio farm women who are Farm Bureau members are working to bridge the disconnect between consumers and their food by sharing their personal experiences through a new program called CommonGround.

“As a mother myself, I understand their concerns,” said Rachel Heimerl, a CommonGround volunteer from Licking County. “CommonGround is all about trying to rebuild the confidence in our food system. To do that, we are working to show the commonalities between real farm families and consumers who benefit from all that farmers grow – to show there is, in fact, CommonGround.”
While it started as a national program, CommonGround is coordinated state-by-state. Ohio has now joined this movement and recently held a kickoff dinner Aug. 11 at the historic Amelita Mirolo Barn in Upper Arlington.
“The best thing about the CommonGround program is that it involves real farm women connecting with other women to talk about any questions and concerns that they may have about food,” said Kristin Reese, a CommonGround volunteer from Fairfield County.Local business and community women leaders were invited to the dinner to have conversations about food and farming while enjoying a delicious meal of locally-produced foods. Topics discussed during the event included everything from when crops are harvested in Ohio and the importance of healthy eating to the size of farms and food safety.
“This was an excellent opportunity to link these wonderful farm women with suburban consumers,” said Mary Ann Krauss, Upper Arlington City Council vice president. “I really enjoyed the evening and look forward to hearing more about the ladies’ activities throughout the state.”
All CommonGround spokeswomen are volunteers who are passionate about agriculture and want to set the record straight about the facts about farming and food. In every state, including Ohio, there is a diverse mix of farmers represented. The program was developed by the United Soybean Board (USB) and National Corn Growers Association.
“Throughout all of the CommonGround states, we have volunteers that have thousands of acres and some that have less than one hundred acres,” said Gretchen Mossbarger, a CommonGround volunteer from Ross County. “We have volunteers who raise animals, some that grow vegetables and others that grow corn and soybeans. We have volunteers that grow organic crops and those that do not. CommonGround is a program that seeks to bridge the gap between the farmers and the people that buy food. To do this effectively, we have to be open and real with the people we meet. We just tell them our own stories.”
The CommonGround program has been launched in five states and is moving forward in six others. Those states include Colorado, Delaware, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota and Ohio. The movement will continue to grow and expand nationwide.
“The best thing about the CommonGround program is that it involves real farm women connecting with other women to talk about any questions and concerns that they may have about food,” said Kristin Reese, a CommonGround volunteer from Fairfield County. “We are not advocating that people buy a certain kind of product. Our purpose is to introduce people to farmers and make sure they have good, straightforward answers to their food questions so that they can make informed decisions about their food choices and feel good about those choices.”

Learn more at

Sep 10, 2011

Pre School Rocks!

We made if through week one of Pre-School. This was a huge deal to send our oldest child off to school even if it is only for 2.5 hours 3 days a week. The word school seems so formal and makes me think my baby is growing up way too fast and our lives will never be the same.

We had mixed feelings about sending her off. I never attended pre-school. My mom (a teacher) had us constantly learning things and turned everything we did into a learning exercise. Times have changed and I think Pre-School is the new norm. They expect so much out of our little ones these days.

Due to my job, I have a very nontraditional schedule that is never the same two days in a row. I have tried my best to be with my children as much as possible call me crazy but I do not want to miss out on anything. I am so fortunate to be able to be arrange things to be with them most days for at least part or all of the day. This means I work a lot of weekend and evenings but to me it is worth it. It made me sad to think Campbell is old enough to go to her class, listen and behave like a little lady, or at least I hope that is how she acts.

I think going to Pre-School was more of a big deal for mom and dad than it was for Campbell. She is independent and I think she really enjoys a change of scenery and meeting new people. She has been telling us about her little classmates and has enjoyed all this chocolate milk she has been getting at snack time. Apparently they give them a white milk or chocolate milk option and what 3 year old would not pick chocolate. We do not drink much chocolate milk in our house. This prompted our first talk about making wise healthful decisions when it comes to food and drinks. She told me she will go for the white milk this week.

Sep 8, 2011

The Real story about where your food (or at least your chicken) may come from

Matt and I just celebrated 9 years of marriage yesterday. Nothing says Happy Anniversary like a batch of new baby chicks. Last evening we were preparing for the chicks arrival, hooking up heat lamps disinfecting water and feeders and the kids of course were there to lend a helping hand. We were supposed to have soccer practice but it rained so we took advantage of some extra time at home. We had chili, cornbread and miscellaneous leftovers. Then, we finished preparing for the chicks. This is the real story about where your food (or at least your chicken) may come from.
The phone rang about 7am with a call from the post office, "We have a box full of LOUD chicks come and get them. Campbell and I drove about 4 miles to the post office to pick up the loud package. Campbell still get excited for the drive to pick up the new arrivals.

We ordered our chicks from Eagle’s Nest Poultry in Oceola, Ohio. The chicks hatched on a Wednesday and they packaged them in boxes with air holes soon after. They take them to the post office to be shipped to their customers like us. We are close enough that we get them the next morning. They are not given food or water before transport because they are so young they do not need it right away. It would be worse to give them food and water and then take it away to ship them. It is very important that they get fresh food and water as soon as we get them home.

They are packed into compartments dividing the box into four parts. Their body heat keeps them warm enough while being shipped and the compartments keep them from all piling up on top of each other.

We bring them back to their pen, which looks small because they do not need much space when they are this little. We have two heat lamps on them and we have them surrounded with straw to avoid wind or any drafts. They have water and full feed from now until they are ready to be processed.

These chickens are a cornish rock cross and are all cockerels (males under 1 year of age). The sex of the birds is determined at birth and while they are usually very good at sending what we order, there may be a few pullets (females under 1 year of age) in the mix. Why do we get cockerels? I have found after raising thousands of chickens that these mature at a faster rate and have more muscle and meat than a pullet. I have raised just pullets and, while it is a very nice product, it takes a little longer to get them the size my customer and I like. These chickens will be with us for 5-6 weeks and then we will have them processed for our freezer and our customers.

We keep our chickens in our barn in an open air cage with natural light and airflow. We do not keep our chickens outside due to predator and health issues and this allows us to raise birds almost all year round. They are fed an antibiotic-free all natural ground feed made from corn and soybeans. We use saw dust shavings for their bedding and change it on a very regular basis to eliminate any possible diseases and keep our birds looking happy and healthy.

These birds are raised for meat. They have a conversion ratio of 1:1 so 1 pound of food to 1 pound of weight gain. These birds have a more heavy body build than a layer (breeding chicken that lays eggs) so they will not run around fast, jump or roost after week 5. They are very happy to sit by the food and water, walk around a bit and then eat and drink more.
Right now, the chicks weigh a few ounces and are cute little fluffy chicks. In about 1 week this will all begin to change. We will keep you posted on their growth, but soon they will begin to lose their cute fluff and get their white adult feathers. Once they are fully feathered we will not have to worry so much about keeping them warm as their feathers will do the job. We will keep a light on them at night to make sure they can see to eat and drink all through the night.
Are these chickens any different than what you find in your grocery store? Our customers will tell you they are very tasty, but we raise a very small amount of birds and make very little money doing so. Volume is the only way to run a viable, profitable business and Ohio is home to many larger family farms that raise thousands of chickens. We are all following the same standards of care and a very similar process. In fact, larger farms have to follow much more stringent inspections and safety standards.
We have a much smaller set up and obviously do not have the facility to raise near the quantity of birds as the larger farmers. Just because some family farms do this on a much grander scale does not make them bad. In fact the way they raise their animals actually makes our food very affordable and extremely safe. The bottom line is that we need farms of all sizes and we consumers should be allowed a choice of where our food comes from.

Sep 4, 2011

"God and Granny sure are making it HOT down here"

"One week ago today I got a call from my mom who said Granny Root has passed away. Grandma Root was born on October 2, 1922. She grew up in Pickerington, on a farm and was raised with rural roots. Granny was a suborn, simple, hard working and a very detail oriented woman. She was one who could lay you out if she thought you were not acting as you should, or could make you feel like the most special person in the world and then remind you that you better behave.  I was not as close with Granny Root in my early years as I was once I had children. I can remember her having several surgeries and she stayed at our house while she was recooperating. My mom  would take care of her and she would tell all of us kids what to do and how to do it. If I remember correctly she told my mom how to do things too. It was this one of a kind attitude we will all remember.
Granny had a love of children and especially babies. When we told her we were expecting our first child she told us we had made a big mistake and we should "send it back". I of course let it slide right off my back because I knew that was how Granny was. Once Campbell arrived I think Granny was at our house everyday telling me how to do things the correct way. Campbell was so loved by Granny Root it was ridiculous. She told everyone that that baby girl needed her and she had to make sure she was OK. Granny was so helpful with Campbell and never minded holding that baby while we got work done. When we told her we were having child two I really do not remember what she said, but of course she loved Parker as much as Campbell. Granny told all her friends she had to "babysit" all the time and once the kids got a little older she played hard with those kids. Campbell and Parker love her so much it was part of our routine that she would come to visit or ride along with us.
A few months after Parker was born Granny's health began to decline. We started to see her everyday and this continued on for a good part of the next year. We would get Granny for play dates and took great care of her while we noticed her mental and physical health was not at her best. Even though Granny was not physically able to do what she used to, she never lost her Granny touch. She would tell me how to fold my laundry, tell me when my mini  blinds needed to be cleaned, tell me when to cut the kids nails and tell me my children needed more of this or that. She sure was bossy but was always looking out for me and making sure her GREAT Grand kids were taken care of. She could drive you nuts at times but one thing was for sure she loved my children.
At the end Granny moved into a nursing home after breaking her hip. Campbell and Parker wanted to visit her everyday. Granny was not only their Great Grandma but one of their best friends. Before Granny declined I had her record one of those Hallmark books, it is an amazing treasure we will have forever.
I am not an emotional person normally, I have a pretty good outlook on life. Granny loved the Lord and I have no doubts she is in heaven celebrating with Grandpa. This past week has generated many questions from Campbell about where you go when you die. Although Granny will be missed it has allowed Campbell to begin to see the big picture in life. I hope that through Granny Root Campbell and Parker will begin to see how precious life is and although death is sad there is much more to life than this physical earth.
When were were having the calling hours at the funeral home, Campbell, Parker and Aunt Jessie went outside so the kids could let loose a little. They were not outside long when Campell told Aunt Jessie "God and Granny sure are making it hot down here".  This is Campell's take on the big picture, kids will make you laugh no matter what is going on.
We love you Granny Root!