Hay Day...Hooray!

Look at those SMALL SQUARE BALES! People, this is such a huge deal for us. Yesterday Rory was able to use our tractor and our neighbor's baler (our baler still has parts that are at the shop) and after some more generous time with our neighbor, he was able to bale half of our field into small bales. We were thrilled.
Here are the Peanut Butter Boys. They were so proud of their dad! Alden laughed a humming laugh while watching the tractors go back and forth. He LOVES tractors. Usually he has his little John Deere in his hand and holds it up in the air when the tractor goes by. 

Our incredible neighbor cut and raked the field again this round, and as payment got to bale half of the field for his own bales. It was pretty fun having both tractors going at the same time.
And then the fun really started. I got to drive the truck with Elsie next to me (babies were already asleep for the night) while Rory and Ivar lived the dream, lifting our own bales into our truck and hauling them into the barn. And in this moment I kept thinking, "we are making the happiest memory right now." It was such a stunning night, Rory was so relieved that he finally had small bales and Ivar transformed into a hard-working farm boy right in front of my eyes. He proudly flipped bales and said to me, "My body feels strong and tired at the same time." He rode in the back, sitting on the bales (we were very safe, Dad!) and was Rory's equal in enthusiasm that we had made another big step forward towards baling our own field. If we make progress at every cutting, we are moving forward. And we are! It's so much to learn. It's really hard work. But we are all giving it our best effort and growing every day. 

uncle kyle birthday dinner

Today Elsie is six! We have fun plans ahead, but she kicked it off right with a special date with Uncle Kyle last night.

Uncle Kyle takes all of this nieces and nephew's out for dinner for their birthday. It's such a special idea! Elsie chose to have a Culver's picnic and it was fun to hear some of their conversation. At the end of each birthday dinner, Uncle Kyle asks the kids if they have any questions for him and tells them he'll always be happy to give his best answer. Isn't that a cool idea? That open invitation will only get better as the kids get older. Though I think Elsie nailed it this year. He said, "so do you have any questions for me?" He later told me she didn't miss a beat, "Why are so many things made in China?"

double rainbow and draft blog posts

This was from Friday night, I think. Both rainbows were full...we cold see both sides and it was so bright that Ivar said, "I can even see the orange!"

Posting this picture right now is fitting because I have the last two of six cakes in the oven. Elsie is turning six on Thursday and has asked for a rainbow cake. Oh my, click on that link. I have had a lot of fun with rainbow food coloring in my life. Though I will say this is the first time I have made this cake with 1-year-old, 2-year-old and 5-year-old helpers.

So here is something crazy. I recently was looking through my drafts folder in my blog. Do you know how many blog posts I have written but never published? This is crazy. Over 350. I basically could take a year off and post these babies! Ha! Some of them didn't get published for good reason. But some of them were just waiting for a photo and then never got published. Some of them seemed inconsiderate based on what was happening in the world that day (too light hearted if there had been a national tragedy...) Some I lost confidence to post.

But guess what? I want to post them. I print off every year of my blog into a hard cover book, so if I don't publish them, these words will literally never see the light of day. And there are some long lost blog posts that I want to still post. So if you don't mind, I'd like to take the rest of the summer and get some of these old words and old pictures up on my blog. I'll write something on the top telling the date that I wrote it. But other than that, I'll post it as is. Even if there isn't a great picture. Which will drive me nuts, but I can get over that.

So that's about it. I might post a lot of them in a row. You don't have to read them if it's overload. It's basically housekeeping for me and for posterity. :) And you, if you're interested in the topic!

goat baby

Hattie has never had one specific favorite thing. She had a blanket for a while, and has rotated some stuffed animals into the position of honor. And right now the favorite snuggly, bedtime thing is Goat Baby. She loves Goat Baby. She changes Goat Baby's diaper and gives her stroller rides. And she brings Goat Baby out with me in the morning to help me milk.

Hattie was my faithful, daily companion each morning as I milked Darcy until she startled Darcy by surprising us both and using the wash cloth to clean Darcy's utter right at the end of the milking session. Darcy was caught off guard and lifted her foot right into my milk pail (I had stopped using the hobbles). Which was such a bummer. The cats were fine with this upset as they got the milk, but all 2-year-olds were then asked to stay back at the house while Mama is milking.
And here's a farm baby if their ever was one. Crawling on his knees across the gravel road. He went back and forth three times. When he wasn't crossing the lane he was helping me plant flowers, putting wood chips in his mouth, splashing in the bucket of water and happily pulling up anything green. Even if it was a flower I just planted. People sometimes ask how we get it all done and I'd have to say it's because I've got lots of great helpers!
And here's my first round of Goat Milk Soap! Tada! Now it sits in the tray for 4-6 weeks before it is hard enough to use. 


goat milk soap

For weeks I have been checking out books from the library, watching youtube videos and gathering my supplies to turn my goat milk into goat soap. When I first set out I assumed making soap would be very simple. It couldn't actually be that complicated. But it is! Lye is dangerous to work with, proper temperatures need to be met, oils must be in perfect ratios and measured on a weigh scale, there needs to be good ventilation...just so many factors to consider! It actually reminded me a whole lot of a chemistry experiment. And Chemistry always overwhelmed me. `

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH (Hattie just stopped by and was delighted to find "My H!")

But on Sunday night I tried my first batch. I was so nervous about it. I watched more youtube videos and realized I was flat out stalling. But it did feel really overwhelming. Just like chemistry. Finally I decided to just start and see what happened. And in the end, I made soap. There's a good lesson right there: just start. And then do it.

After pouring the "pudding" into the molds it has to be wrapped in towels and placed in a box for 24 hours to properly set up. There's all sorts of lingo I'm learning, but I'll just describe it how I understand it. And then last night I got to slice it into bars. It was so exciting! I kept yelling, "I made soap! I made soap!" And now it has to cure for 4-6 weeks before it can be used. I had no idea soap was such a procedure. But I am totally into this now. I may even make another batch this week. I really, really love the process. My first batch was lemon-cream. I may go for peppermint next. And then I can start adding things like color so I can make designs in the soap! And ground oatmeal for exfoliation, or flower petals!

I may end up liking chemistry after all of this...
And one final thought. Do you see that hand blender in the top picture? It was key to the success of this process. I've written about this before, but all throughout my childhood, my Grandma and Grandpa Bredberg gave all of the cousins $25 to spend before Christmas. We had to buy something, wrap it up in gift wrap and then at the family celebration, we would each have our turn to unwrap our own present and show Grandma and Grandpa what we picked out. I only remember two presents that I chose: a real stroller for my dolls that Ivar later used and my Braun Hand Blender. I think I was in 7th grade and of all things on planet earth, I wanted a hand blender. (I am beginning to realize that I have always been very practical.) So it was pretty awesome to STILL BE USING that great gift, twenty-five years later on something as fun and practical as Goat Milk Soap!

Also, look at those darling stained glass flowers my mom made for me! I love them. And don't look at my dirty window...