Welcome To Prairie Farmstead Ponderings...

Join us as we wander through life's adventures on our farm on the Nebraska prairie land. Laugh with us as we learn ~ often times through trial and error ~ about rural country living.

Farmstead Guest Room Is Complete!

Posted By on December 13, 2011

Finally! Whew!  The completion of the Farmstead Guest Room has been a long time coming.  I mean a long, long, long time coming.  As in nearly-a-year-long time coming.

Even longer than that if you go back to the way the house looked when we bought it!  The photo above was taken on 18 December 2008 ~ nearly three years ago!  Don’t mistake this for an attached garage.  No.  There was a garage door right into the lower level of our home.  Husbie was the only man we know of who got to park his tractor in the house.  I’m not funnin’ ya.  You can see the nose of Sampson the 8N Tractor in the lower left portion of the photo, and the tire tracks on the driveway from when Husbie backed him out.  This was the day we removed the garage door and installed a 60″ x 60″ window in its place.

It remained like that for a little over two years, until 16 January 2011, when Darling Husbie and I decided to finally turn it into a guest room.  We thought ~ and it has now been confirmed ~ that area of the house would make a nice guest room, as with an entrance door right there off the back driveway, guests can come and go as they please.

Darling Husbie and I were gun-ho and managed to get the closet framed, along with the main wall dividing the room from the remainder of the lower level.  As we knew it would be, life was hectic with Husbie’s work responsibilities and schedule, and we tried to fit a little guest room work in here and there.  Mostly there, I think, because here it is 13 December and I’m just now able to share our excitement with you.

We didn’t do it by ourselves, either.  It took getting Uncle to the ol’ barn house to get the job done.  And, now that we’ve got him here, we’re not letting him go.  Seriously.  We’ve hidden the keys to his truck, removed the wheels off his travel trailer, and we only allow him access to his tools that he needs for a particular job.  He may be able to hot wire his truck, but he won’t leave without his tools.

Uncle and V arrived on 15 October.  A fabulous birthday present, indeed!  Three days later, Uncle and Husbie had the last couple pieces of drywall up and were taping and mudding.  Husbie may have been muttering, too, under his breath, of course.  He just loves drywall.

Here, he is loving the clean-up process of all the drywalling tools at the end of a long, but productive day.

Not only did the guys work on taping and mudding [and muttering], but they also installed the new exterior door they’d picked up for a screaming deal during their supply run the night before.  Get this, though…this wasn’t even the first project!  The first thing Uncle and Husbie did was demolish a wall blocking entrance to the west side of the house as you enter the front door.  More on that later, though.  This is about the guest room.  And, Darling Husbie’s love for drywall.

So, you can see things move right along with Uncle in the house.  Within just a few days, the guys were ready for the paint crew to come in.  V helped me get a nice coat of primer on all the drywall…ceiling and walls.  I then got busy with my brush and rollers full of color.  Oh.  Let me make a little side note.  You know that love that Husbie has for drywall?  Well, I share that same love.  Except my love is for painting ceilings!  Hmm-mmm.  That’s all I’m going to say about that.

Anyway, the paint went up.

Light fixtures found their way to their final resting place.

The floor went down.

The window trim went up.

Doors got installed.  Door trim went up.  Base trim went down.  Time for another side note.  We made all the trim by hand.  As in, the guys bought regular 1×4 and 1×6 boards and cut, routered and sanded them.  I did all the staining and polyurethaning in J’s Laboratory.  More on that later.  This is about the guest room.  And, Darling Husbie’s love for drywall.  And, my love for painting ceilings.

We also made all the closet shelving and rod brackets.  You know me, though.  I was off watching Lifetime Movie Network and eating bonbons, and missed a photo opportunity after all that beauty was installed.  Our guests quickly moved into the new Farmstead Guest Room, and I didn’t feel I should take photos of their personal belongings.

Here’s the view of the closet and bedroom doors as you enter the room’s exterior door.  The doors are oak.  Custom trimmed and fitted by Uncle and Husbie.  Stained, hand rubbed and poly-ed by me in J’s Laboratory.  One more side note.  My most Darling Husbie may have acquired a new tool or two.  Wait until you see the scaffolding Uncle and Husbie got for the short girl!  More on that later.  This is about the guest room.  And all the love.

Here’s the view looking at the northeast corner of the room.

Here’s the view looking at the northwest corner of the room.

Finally, the blinds were hung with care.

And, no Farmstead Guest Room would be complete without a resident guest American Fox Hound!  Meet Abigail and Peanie’s cousin, Rosie.

So, when are you going to come visit us?

In-a-Pinch Pizza Crust

Posted By on October 13, 2011

Normally, I make my pizza dough from scratch using flour, oil, sugar, yeast, etc.  However, I may have discovered a new favorite pizza crust ~ one that would make true Italians cringe.  But, since I’m not Italian, it matters not.

Pizza was on the menu the other night.  As luck would have it, just about the time I should have begun preparation of the dough in order to give it sufficient ‘rise’ time, Darling Husbie announced we were going into town to run a few errands.

In a semi-scurry mode to pull something together for dinner once we got back home, I happened across a little gem on the Betty Crocker website.  It was a recipe for making an entire pizza, but what I was interested in was the crust.  Betty saved the day!

You won’t believe how extraordinarily simple this crust is.  You also won’t believe how tasty it is.  At least until you try it.  So, try it!

In-a-Pinch Pizza Crust

1-1/2 cups Original Bisquick Mix
1/3 cup Water (very hot)

Move oven rack to lowest position.  Heat oven to 450°F.  Grease cookie sheet or 12-inch pizza pan.  In medium bowl, mix Bisquick mix and hot water; beat vigorously 20 strokes.

Place dough on surface well dusted with Bisquick mix.  (I used a little corn meal to dust my Pampered Chef pizza stone ~ it was my Grandma’s pizza stone, by the way, so everything made on it always tastes better.)  Knead about 60 times or until smooth and no longer sticky.  Press dough into 13-inch round on cookie sheet.  Or press in pizza pan; pinch edge, forming 1/2-inch rim.

Top pizza crust with your favorite toppings.  Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until crust is brown and cheese is melted and bubbly.

On this particular night, I made a Ranch Chicken pizza.  I used a little Kraft Ranch dressing as my sauce, some leftover shredded chicken, a few bacon bits, a little diced bell pepper and plenty-o-cheese.  It was delicious!  I will definitely be using this recipe again…especially when I’m in a pinch for time.

Shared from the Prairie Farmstead Pizzeria to yours. 

Amber Waves of…Corn?

Posted By on October 12, 2011

Whoever thought corn could be so pretty?  Probably only those who grow it, yes?  As you may recall, this is our first year for a field corn crop here at the Prairie Farmstead.  Previous years have yielded alfalfa.  I won’t hesitate to say I much prefer the corn.  Mostly, because we haven’t had to lift a finger!  I know, that’s terrible, isn’t it?  Seriously, though.  Moving hay bales is hard work ~ especially when they weigh 2/3 of what you do.

The main field looking northwest.

We’re share cropping this year.  Which, for us, means we provide the land and the other farmer provides…well, everything else.  Darling Husbie did plow the alfalfa under in the main field, though.  But, then, the other farmer planted, fertilized, cultivated, and sprayed for weeds.  He will also do all the harvesting and will haul it all to the grain elevators.  All we’ve had to do is sit back and watch it grow.  And, then, we watched it dry.  We’ve got somewhere between 14 to 15 acres of corn this year ~ there’s approximately 12 acres on the main field, and somewhere around 2 to 3 acres on the field beyond the trees you see in the distance.

My beloved Corn Man.

There’s more benefits to having corn instead of alfalfa, too.  With alfalfa, you have to pray for rain.  Then, you have to pray for a dry spell long enough to cut, rake, bale and remove the hay from the field.  You do not want rain on your windrows.  Then, you pray for more rain, then a dry spell, and on and on.  It can be quite challenging.  When the alfalfa blooms, it’s time to cut.  It doesn’t wait around for the weather man.  So, if weather conditions aren’t cooperative, and you miss the prime cut, the quality of the alfalfa lessens.  Now, with corn, you pray for a dry spell long enough to get the seeds in the ground.  And, then, you pray for rain.  You keep on praying for rain.  Easy peasy, yes?

His sidekick ~ Abigail, the Toy Fox Tewowist.

We have a great stand of corn this year.  Seriously, this crop looks as good as those that were irrigated.  The only water our crop received is that which fell from the sky.  We’re very excited, but, then, we’re amateur corn farmers.  Apparently, though, the real corn farmer is excited about this crop, too.  He told us to start planning our cruise.  That’s farm talk for ‘expect to get a healthy yield from this crop’.  I learned that in my AGRI 2010 – Farm Management class.  Just kidding.  I made that up.  Now, really, for whatever reason, the stalks on the end rows are always shorter and scrawnier than their brother stalks a few rows in.  Darling Husbie is 6’2″.  He’s standing in a scrawny row of corn in the photo above.

Me ~ Farmer J ~ in all my goofiness.

This is me.  This is me in corn.  I’m quite a bit shorter than Husbie.  He won’t allow the fur girls and I to go beyond the first couple of rows in the field.  He’s too worried we will get lost and he’ll never see us again.  Well, he worries about Abigail, anyway.  Peanie and I?  Not so much.  [tee hee!]  Plus, there’s all sorts of critters in there.  Corn critters.  Skunks, even.

Follow the yellow brick...er...corn road.

This is the road along the north edge of our property.  It’s the road we take to get to the back forty.  The crop you see on the right is someone else’s crop.  They are planted right up against our property line.  The road is on our property, and then the crop on the left is ours.

What has been amazing to watch is how quickly the corn started drying once it reached that stage.  The photos with us in them were taken on 09 September.  The photos with the amber waves of corn were taken just the other morning, on 08 October.  We had a week of sunshine and warm temperatures, coupled with obnoxious winds, so that really helped dry it out.  But, now, it’s raining.  Remember all those prayers up above for rain, then a dry spell, then rain again?  Well, now all we want is dry.  At least until the harvest is complete.

It will be fun to watch the combine.  We’ll be sure to take some photos to share with you.  We may even see some of the corn critters scurry, yes?

Happy farmin’! 

Our Daily Bread: 10 ~ 16 October

Posted By on October 10, 2011

Another week gone by.  By the looks of it, this is turning into a boring menu blog.  It’s not.  I promise!  I have so many things I’d like to share with you and update you on ~ I just need to make the time to do it.

Last week’s menu planning worked really well for us.  I did end up switching a couple of days around to better accommodate a change in the schedule ~ or lack of me picking up a key ingredient while at the grocery store.  And, I did manage to get a pumpkin pie built for Darling Husbie.  Except, it wasn’t a pumpkin pie at all.  I substituted Boston Marrow squash for the pumpkin.  Another variation was instead of using the spices called for in the recipe, I used the leftovers of a homemade Chai Tea mix I had made a few days earlier.  The Chai Tea mix was good, but it wasn’t great.  I’d found a recipe for Chai Tea concentrate that I much preferred, so rather than waste the first mix, I used it in the pie.  And, the pie turned out great!  I love it when I can have small successes like that, as opposed to so many of the flops and duds I’ve created.

Anyway, we enter a brand new week with new blessings and new challenges!  We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us ~ and being blessed with a full and satisfied tummy doesn’t hurt.

Monday ~ Chicken and Rice Casserole; Garden Salad

Tuesday ~ Steak; Roasted Potato Bites; Corn on the Cob; Cauliflower; Garlic Bread

Wednesday ~ Pork Roast; Mashed Potatoes; Sweet Peas; Glazed Carrots

Thursday ~ Cheeseburgers; Ranch Beans; Pasta Salad

Friday ~ Chicken Bacon Wraps; Jasmine Rice; Sweet Corn; Green Beans

Saturday ~ Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups; Steamed Broccoli; Bread Sticks

Sunday ~ Chicken Enchilada Soup; Tortilla Chips; Garden Salad

As far as dessert this week, while digging the Boston Marrow squash out of the freezer, I found a bunch of carrot puree.  So, I’d really like to come up with something to use some of that.  I was thinking about perhaps some kind of muffins.  Those would be nice as a sort of grab-n-go with our coffee in the morning.  I wonder, too, if I wouldn’t be able to use a spice cake mix and the carrot puree and do what I did for the Easiest Chocolate Strawberry Cake, Ever!?  Hmmm.  Perhaps I’ll do both.

And, somehow stick to the diet.

Bon Appetit! 

Our Daily Bread: 03 ~ 09 October

Posted By on October 3, 2011

Seriously?  October?  We are amidst the last quarter of 2011, and I’m just now getting used to writing ’2011′ on the checks.  Is anyone else stuck in the past a couple of decades, like I am?  I mean, when someone mentions something happening in, say…1992, in your mind does it feel like perhaps that’s only seven or eight years ago?  It certainly can’t be nearly twenty years ago!  Can it?!

Anyway, Darling Husbie and I have entered a new season and since then, I have been completely off kilter with my schedule.  We are both absolute creatures of habit, and my habits revolve around routine and organization.  Well, organization flew out the window.  It’s gone south for the winter, apparently.  That’s completely unacceptable.  We are about to embark on some fun and exciting ~ and chaotic ~ adventures around here.  I must, at least, have some sort of organized chaos!

So, since today is a brand new day, and it’s a brand new week, I thought I’d start with something simple.  Our menu.

Monday ~ Oven Fried Chicken; Mashed Potatoes; Corn and Cucumber Salad; Cheesy Garlic Biscuits

Tuesday ~ Meatloaf; Roasted Potato Bites; Green Beans; Cauliflower

Wednesday ~ New Orleans Dirty Rice; Tossed Salad

Thursday ~ Beef Roast; Carrots, Potatoes, Celery; Honey Wheat Rolls

Friday ~ Chicken Tacos; Refried Beans; Spanish Rice

Saturday ~ Homemade Pizza; Tossed Salad

Sunday ~ Chicken and Dumplings; Tossed Salad

For dessert, I think I will build a ‘Pumpkin’ Pie.  We still have quite a bit of Boston Marrow squash in the freezer, and with our cool fall nights again, I think a nice slice of pie will fit the bill.

Bon Appetit! 

PS:  Remember my dieting efforts?  Well, I lost eight pounds in two weeks, and I’ve stalled.  But, then again, with all the ‘change’ taking place, I’ve sort of been cheating, too!  I don’t think crab rangoons are on the diet plan menu!  I’m happy to report, though, I haven’t gained any back.  Now, if I can shed a few more pounds, I’ll be delighted!

Jeremiah Comforts Us!

Posted By on October 2, 2011

Husbie Received a Very Special Award

Posted By on September 17, 2011

I was blessed with the opportunity to witness a very special occasion for Darling Husbie.  On Thursday, 15 September 2011, my beloved husband was presented with the Honorable Order of St. Michael.  It was a moment that nearly brought this hardened soldier to tears and left him momentarily speechless ~ something his peers and subordinates mentioned never experiencing before.  [tee hee!]

Saint Michael is referred to in biblical writings as an archangel who  wages war against evil.  He was known as the heavenly prince or champion who specifically charged forward to guard and defend others.  He is legendary as the leader of angels who fought a war in heaven and conquered the dragon and cast it down from the skies.  Michael’s battles are an allegory of the struggle between good and evil.  Throughout the centuries, Michael has been depicted with a sword fighting or standing over the conquered dragon.

The legendary image of Saint Michael defeating the dragon exemplifies the bravery and gallantry that we associate with the Aviation soldier.  His angelic qualities demonstrate the boldness and swiftness of Army Aviation on the battlefield.  As a brave warrior and protector, Saint Michael is the embodiment of courage and justice and is an appropriate symbol of the values and high level of excellence exhibited throughout Army Aviation.

Induction into the Order of Saint Michael is intended to recognize individuals who have contributed significantly to the promotion of Army Aviation in ways that stand out in the eyes of the recipient’s seniors, subordinates, and peers.  These individuals must also demonstrate the highest standards of integrity and moral character, display an outstanding degree of professional competence, and serve the United States Army Aviation or civilian aviation community with distinction.

Presentation of the Honorable Order of St. Michael on Thursday, 15 Sep 2011

During the induction reading, my Beloved’s long list of accomplishments in and contributions to the United States Army Aviation community were acknowledged.  I couldn’t help but stand, eyes overflowing with tears of pride, in complete admiration and adoration of this noble man who chose me to be his bride.  Of course, Husbie doesn’t feel worthy of this honorable distinction, but I, and his fellow soldiers who stood in recognition and respect, couldn’t disagree more.

I have yet to obtain a copy of that particular verbiage, but I will.  It is something I want to keep in our ‘treasure’ box so one day our grandchildren [gasp!] can read about their Grandpa’s service to our country.  I’ll have to see about sharing that openly here, though, once I do receive it.  My humble husband would be horrifically embarrassed.  We’ll have to see how much flack I get from posting this.

Darling Husbie ~ I do love, admire and adore you so!  Mwah!

Absolutely Ape for Banana Bars

Posted By on September 15, 2011

More often than not, it seems there’s two bananas out of the bunch that end up being neglected on the counter top.  They quietly sit in anticipation of being consumed, but it never happens.  The longer they sit, the more they are neglected.  Scoffed at, even, if their once vibrant yellow skins dare turn a darker shade of brown.  You know those bananas, don’t you?

Well, a while back, I found a wonderful Banana Bars recipe on Betty Crocker’s website.  As I tend to do with most recipes, I tweaked it.  Just a little.  The end result was delicious ~ and probably one of the culprits of my dieting now.  I thought I’d take a few minutes to share a few pounds…er…I mean the recipe with you.  With fall right around the corner, this would undoubtedly make a great go-to treat, and a wonderful excuse to warm the house with the oven!

Banana Bars

Bars
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (2 medium)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.  Grease bottom and sides of rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches, with shortening.  In large bowl, mix granulated sugar, bananas, oil, eggs and vanilla with spoon.  Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Spread in pan.
  2. Bake bars 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool completely, about 1 hour.
  3. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, mix cream cheese, butter and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until blended. Gradually beat in powdered sugar with spoon, scraping bowl occasionally, until smooth and spreadable.
  4. Spread cooled bars with Cream Cheese Frosting.  For bars, cut into 6 row by 4 rows.  Store covered in refrigerator.

Makes 2 dozen bars.

If you feel like really monkeying around ~ add and stir in a cup of chocolate chips!

Pure sweetness, right here! 

I Have Discovered a New Species

Posted By on September 13, 2011

Apparently my beloved Darling Husbie is never going to let me live this one down, so I may as well share it with you ~ as my version ~ before you hear it from him.  I mean, I figure I may as well take credit where credit is due, right?

Quite a while back, now, Darling Husbie and I were headed into town to run a couple errands.  We were in the Little Red Truck, and it was a nice, calm evening.  Husbie was driving, and I was his adoring passenger along for the ride.  Nothing out of the ordinary.

We had made our way along Highway 30 and were approaching the railroad track overpass just as you enter the east side of town.  It is here that I made a new, grand discovery.  I, all by myself, discovered a new species.  Quite an elusive one, I might add.  For, on this eve, I discovered what I’ve named the Hemipterous de Hýdõr.  Otherwise what will be commonly known to us as ~ the water bug.

Now, this species isn’t like the average water bug that looks like the common cockroach.  No, siree.  The Hempiterous de Hýdõr is special.  It is absolutely clear.  Nearly invisible, even.  At least until it lands on a hard surface.  Even then, you will likely hear this incredible species before you actually see it.  That is quite possibly the secret it holds to remaining elusive for so long.  That is, until I, all by myself, discovered it on this particular eve.

How did I discover it?

Well, Darling Husbie was paying attention to driving, which is why his brain was occupied.  Mine, on the other hand, was absolutely free and clear to wander and observe.  So, as we were approaching the aforementioned overpass, I heard a distinctive “thwap!“.  We’ve all heard it.  The familiar sound of a large bug hitting the windshield.  This distinctive sound was loud enough, it reeled my wandering mind and gazing eyes back to what was right before me.  Wow!  How incredibly, remarkably interesting!  Now, we all know, too, that when a big bug goes “thwap!” on the windshield, there is also the big yellow or green smear that undoubtedly happens when said bug’s rear end…well…you know.  But, what was amazing about the Hempiterous de Hýdõr is that the smear was clear.  Nearly invisible but for the outline of the ‘splat.’

Completely enthralled by my new discovery, I exclaimed to Husbie, “Wow!  That bug’s guts are clear!  It must be some sort of water bug.”  My Darling Husbie, whom didn’t share in the same enthusiasm I had ~ and somehow held in the laughter and refrained from wrecking the Little Red Truck ~ said, “Yeah, Honey.  That’s a water bug alright.”

Come ON, Husbie!  Is that all you can say?!  I’ve just discovered the elusive Hempiterous de Hýdõr and that’s all the excitement you can muster?  Where is your outward expression of elation?  Come on, make a commotion with me!

But, no.  As it turns out, my Hempiterous de Hýdõr was really just a very large raindrop.  You know, one of those big raindrops that kind of fall by themselves until the full force of the rain cloud reaches you?  Yeah.  That’s all it was.  Bummer.

Now, when you quit laughing at me ~ oh, go ahead and laugh…get it out of your system…the Lord knows Husbie still laughs at me…shoot, he’s told this story to all the guys at the flight facility and now they all laugh at me, too ~ could you at least give me a hug by leaving me a comment?

A pat on the head would sure make me feel better. 

Honestly, I laugh at myself, too ~ it does the spirit good!

A Sad State of Affairs

Posted By on September 10, 2011

It’s truly a sad state of affairs when you struggle to do ten situps!  As someone I adore always says, “Oh my socks!”  Before moving to the flatland, I would have said I was in better than average shape thanks to our Geocaching efforts.  There’s something about climbing to the summit of every nearby mountain that gets and keeps the ol’ flab firm.  This flat prairie doesn’t offer the same kind of workout.  Apparently.

So, I’m on a quest to divest myself of 15 pesky, greatly unwanted pounds ~ completely unsupported by my Darling Husbie, mind you.  He doesn’t think I need to lose any weight.  Anyway, not only do I need to shed the sticks of butter on the ol’ thunder thighs, but I need to firm up the ol’ gut, too.

What better way to firm up the gut than good old fashioned situps, yes?  Um, yeah.  The first day I did them, I struggled to do ten.  Well, in all fairness, it’s probably been about five years since I’ve even done a situp.  No worries.  I’ll just do sets of ten throughout the day, right?  Um, no.  I didn’t do any more that first day.  By the next day, my sorry flabby abs were mocking me to the point it hurt to pick up the laundry basket.  Like I said…a sad state of affairs.

Determined ~ like I’ve been known to be a time or two [Husbie might call it stubbornness] ~ on the third day, sorry abs still reminding me I’m old and out of shape, I set out…er…rather, laid out to do another set of ten situps.  Oh my socks, how pathetic I am!  By the time I got three done, those flabby gut muscles were burnin’ and taunting me like there would be no tomorrow.  I didn’t give in, though.  I kept going.  I won’t go into how long it took me to knock out that final situp.  However, I think it’d be safe to say Husbie could have probably finished an entire chapter in his book.

That final situp took every ounce of energy I had in me.  Oh, it hurt so bad…er…good.  I think I heard something tear in my shoulder on that last one, too.  The strain of trying to heave myself up, and all.  Sad, I tell you.  Pure pathetic-ness right there.

So, while my beloved husband can knock out 98 situps, 108 pushups, 108 flutter kicks and run 2 miles all in less than 45 minutes, I struggle to knock out 10 measly situps.  Yep.  He’s my Army soldier stud, and I’m…well…I’m a flabby dud!

Onward and upward, though!  Just as soon as my abs stop hurting.