Camp Covid-NINteen

The Wall Street Journal JUST ran an article about people getting creative with summer camps in their own backyards, since so many elsewhere have been cancelled, and I texted my sisters to say, "We were hip and cool and camping before it was hip and cool to camp!"

When Chris and I first got married, I invited all my nieces and nephews to the farm for Camp Nin (the word that's easiest when you're little and can't say Adriane), and it's become a summer tradition ever since. To be fair, the first year I was a zealous camp director and made everyone t-shirts and bandanas and goodie bags . . . and this year I was a slightly less organized camp director and spent some time with my good friends Oriental Trading Company and Amazon.

Nevertheless, we prevailed. Camp Covid-NINteen must go on!

We had track and field events, like three-legged races with the tallest and shortest among us.

We had storytime each day, led by a different cousin, complete with crafts and snacks.

We went on picnics to the lake and ran up and down hills and fell and got very dirty.

We recreated Monet's Water Lilies to the best of our abilities.

We went to the Battle of Lexington Museum and learned about the battle of the hemp bales.

We learned about bird identification and painted our own birdhouses.

We worked on hand-eye coordination. Or maybe just getting sweaty in the Missouri heat.

We learned about Georgia O'Keefe's flower paintings and attempted to recreate them ourselves.

We had spa night for the little girls, where the cucumbers meant to calm our eyes ended up being a snack instead.

We raced each other wearing giant cardboard feet and tried not to fall down.

We survived (barely) a Civil War Escape Room.

We ate all our breakfasts on the porch so that we could listen to the birds, wave at the neighbors, and enjoy the sunshine.

We got to see new baby kittens!

We left the boys alone to have a game night with no girls allowed.

We read a lot of books.

And we even sneaked in a couple rounds of bingo before heading home.

No summer camp? Who needs it? We have Pinterest, moms, Aldi, Dollar Tree, and kids who are just excited to be with their cousins, learn new things, and try their hardest not to have to go to bed at night. After all, isn't that what camp is all about?

Rhubarb Cherry Crunch

Regrettably, due to youth and naivete, I spent a large portion of my childhood saying, "No, thank you" when my mom offered rhubarb cherry crunch for dessert. This is a poor decision I'll have to live with for my entire life.

You, on the other hand, still have a chance to live your best rhubarb life starting here and now.

Just don't add the walnuts to the crumble. I mean, you CAN . . . if you're a squirrel or a chipmunk or some other kind of rodent who enjoys eating things that taste like tree bark. But if you're none of those things and can still dig walnuts and voluntarily wreck a perfectly good dessert by smothering the rhubarb and cherry deliciousness in them, we may never be able to see eye to eye. Or I may just encourage you to go to a doctor. It could go either way.

Regardless, try this dessert warm with a little milk poured over the top. It may not be the normal way to eat it, but it's the Iowa way, which clearly makes it the best way. Enjoy!

4 c. rhubarb
1/2 c. sugar
2 T. cornstarch
1 c. water
1 jar cherry pie filling
1 tsp. almond extract
3/4 c. oats
3/4 c. brown sugar, packed
3/4 c. sifted flour
pinch of salt
1/3 c. butter
1/2 c. walnuts

Place rhubarb in 11x7x1 1/2" baking dish. Combine sugar and cornstarch in small saucepan. Gradually stir in water. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until thick. Stir in pie filling and extract. Combine oats, brown sugar, flour, salt, and butter until crumbly. Add walnuts. Sprinkle over fruit. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

working cows

Hats (cowboy and otherwise) off to all the men and women working cows on hot days in full sun with no shade: running back and forth, climbing up and down, sweating bullets, wearing hats, swigging water, and doing it all while heifers let off plenty heat of their own. 


And, just in case it needs to be repeated, here's to the generations of farmers working together, regardless of the size of their farm: to the grandmas helping the vet, the dads running the equipment, and the little girls talking non-stop about heifers taking rides to grow big out in Kansas. It's good stuff that goes on here, even when sweat is plentiful and sunburn is inevitable. 

We're grateful. 

Wet Dogs

This spring, our prayer for you is that you are released from your shelter-in-place orders ASAP and that you are able to celebrate with as much joy and glee as Colt and Petunia after a dip in a pond. 


Just don't go too crazy. You're not used to this much excitement, you know.

Family Quilts


Coronavirus makes us do crazy things, like bake coffee cakes unnecessarily. I'm not confirming that I did that, but I can confirm that I've never baked a coffee cake until this whole mess started, so, okay, yes, I did do that. 

I also got out my grandmother's sewing machine this week, as though I've somehow turned into Ma Ingalls and will be able magically to sew a mug rug that doesn't look like my four-year-old made it. More on that one to follow because those pictures are going to be prime "nailed it" quality on Pinterest. 

But my mom, who actually can sew, provides a lot of inspiration. She has made each of my children his or her own quilt, and I love them so much I haven't actually let a child drool or spit up or basically do anything other than very calmly lay underneath them, because aren't they just the most beautiful? 

Based on my machine threading (lack of) success so far, I'm confident I won't be the grandma who can produce something this meaningful and fun. But my goodness. I'm so thankful she is!


Now here's the next question: Who else has taken up a craft or hobby you've put on the shelf? Any takers?

dairy / COVID-19 interview round-up

Dairy farmers have been in the news lately, discussing the issue of, in some places, an oversupply of milk. Exports, restaurants, and schools are shut down and are no longer receiving regular shipments of dairy products. Unprocessed milk can't legally just be given away, and food pantries and food banks aren't set up to receive thousands of gallons of milk anyway. Cold storage is full. So, for some farmers, milk has simply had to go down the drain.

It's hard to get the full story in a brief news segment, but my farmer is doing his best to set the record straight about why it's happening, what people can do in the meantime, and -- the part that often gets left out -- that farmers have known hardship before, dug in, found a solution, and weathered the storm. And the good news? They'll do it again! 

Check out the links below from this past week to see/hear him chat about dairying during corona. (Not to be confused with dairying WITH a Corona, which is probably what most farmers would like to be doing right now.)

KMBC: "For a cow, once you stop milking her there is no restarting." Her milking, that is. Exports, restaurants, schools and the economy, for sure . . . and hopefully soon!

KFUO: You can listen to my farmer and me chat about the vocation of dairy farmer and how COVID-19 has impacted how we're taking care of our team, cows, and neighbors during this time.

FOX 4: "Eat that extra ice cream. Put that extra slice of cheese on your hamburger." Wise words from my husband for any day of the week, but now especially!

KCTV5: Rather than assume that farmers would rather dump milk than give it away, my farmer's encouraging people to learn the facts. "Just assume everyone is doing their best and working to beat this thing."

How Coronavirus Is Impacting Farm Life


Between spring rains, preparing for planting, and keeping an eye on how COVID-19 is changing pretty much everything for everyone from one day to the next, I nabbed my favorite dairy farmer and asked him to help you take a peek into how the coronavirus situation is impacting dairy farming.

Q: How has the coronavirus pandemic changed daily life for you on the farm?
A: If there's ever a "good" time of year for a situation like this, it's now. It's come at a time of year when we're preparing for planting, but since it's been wet and we can't get into the field, we've had the necessary time to be in the office researching and preparing contingency plans. We're putting in writing what precautions to take, discussing how to get our work done while still keeping our people safe, and doublechecking to ensure we're following the guidelines set in place because they change every day.

And ultimately, we're making sure that we're still able to -- in the midst of all this -- do our work so that we can continue to provide an essential product at a critical time. Not to mention we're doing our best to make smart decisions so that we can stay as financially healthy and viable as possible so that we can provide for our employees, their families, and my family.

Q: People are stockpiling toilet paper and food. Are you having to do anything similar for the farm?
A: We're good on toilet paper, but we have had to make sure we have enough of our supplies to continue our work. In the midst of various industries being shut down unexpectedly, we've had to purchase ahead when it comes to our seed and fertilizer for the row crops and a dozen different types of feed for the cows. We're also making sure we have plenty of veterinary supplies, and as best we can, supplies for equipment in the shop. I'm expecting that manufacturers of vet products may well pivot off the animal side to the human side if asked to do so, but that's speculation on my part. So we're just all working to make sure our families have what they need as well as the same for the cows and all they need.

Q: A lot of people are out of work at the moment. Do you and the team feel a certain amount of pride and gratitude in knowing you're among an essential workforce right now?
A: There's a badge of honor that I can sense among the team in regard to providing a critically essential food product, for sure. And they should be proud. They're out there sweating and hustling and showing up and doing their work, no matter what's going on in the world.

Personally, I sometimes get in the rut of thinking, as people do with any job, "This is my job. This is what I do. I take care of the cows. I take care of my people. I take care of my family. I go to sleep." But this has reopened my eyes to how vital what we do is to the community, how many people rely on us, and it's also been a good reminder of the fulfillment that comes with farming.

Q: What do you think the next year will look like for the ag industry after we emerge from this?
A: I have no idea what next week or next month will look like, let alone next year. What I do know is that as long as we have consumers that are demanding our product, we will still be here making milk.

Q: It seems like things are leveling out a bit, but what are you telling people who are still worried about finding enough food at the grocery store?
A: There's plenty of food out there. The supply chain just has to catch up with it. Our milk prices are terrible right now; there's actually an oversupply of milk. So, hold steady. You just have to give it time to catch up at the grocery store.

Q: How do the cows feel about all of this?
A: The girls remain exceptionally unphased. As long as they have enough people who show up at work to milk them, feed them, and get them clean, dry bedding, they don't really care what goes on!

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