Some days my life resembles a book…

2

Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 14-10-2014

I read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad, No Good Day to my oldest son many years ago and yesterday got to live my version of it. It started in the wee hours of the morning when I felt a headache coming on and by 6 am, I can’t stand lying in the bed anymore-it pounds like a drum that won’t shut off. I took some meds to stave it off, but sure enough, the migraine comes to visit anyways and ruins a perfectly good day. And it WAS a beautiful day in North Dakota yesterday-sunny, warm, slight breeze-and where was I? Shades drawn, lights off and a cold compress on my head. However, for the first time, I had a baking order to fill  and so I had to get in the lab and make some magic. Normally this order would be a piece of cake for me-two loaves of bread and a dozen buns. But trying to bake with a pounding headache is not for the weak and boy, was I weak. Nothing went my way; I burned the buns, started the smoke alarm (which by the way, with the head thing, was enough to drive me to drink at that moment) and ran out of eggs. No eggs means no second batch of buns. Let’s go back to the smoke alarm because while it wasn’t funny, it was…there I was, trying to get it to stop by waving a broom over it while the animals at the door started whining from the noise-which I had opened to let the smoke dissipate.  Then the pan got stuck in the oven so I couldn’t get it out and ended up using tongs to pull the buns out one by one (there were twenty-four). I looked up every recipe I had for buns and they all called for at least one egg; while I love my customer, I was not driving to town with a migraine in the blinding sunshine to get an egg. I managed to eek out six from the two loaves and felt like the apostles when Jesus made the loaves and fishes feed the masses. To make me more frustrated, those twenty-four buns were works of art-I had weighed them each individually and carefully formed them. They had the promise of a beautiful bun, but let’s face it, pale on top and brown on the bottom only describes me when I’m out mowing in the summer with my white chest and tan legs, not a bun for sale. The bright spot of the day is now I don’t have to wonder if my smoke detector works…it does! The final touch on my day was in the evening when I made a delivery to Fessenden, twenty-three miles to the west, knowing I had to go back to Carrington, sixteen miles to the east of us, to pick up son from a meet. I told him in the morning to text when they got to Jamestown to give me an hour warning. Did he? No. Am I shocked? Not really. He’s a thirteen year old with bigger things to worry about like what game to buy on x box for Christmas. I texted him outside of Fessenden to see where they were at and he states they are about twenty minutes from Carrington. I’m no mathamagician (yes, I think I made that up, but don’t want to pull an Al Gore here) but I had twenty miles plus sixteen to get to Ctown…not going to happen. We got home, he finished his social studies project, and gave me a big hug good night. The day ended on a high note for certain.

This morning I feel back to normal again and wish I knew why I get those migraines; they completely erase twenty-four hours from your clock, as if the day never happened. In the winter or on a cold, windy day it wouldn’t be so bad, but when I have twelve million things to do outside (and inside) it makes life a little difficult. However, it is the promise of a good day and much to do-it is supposed to be in the upper 60s/ low 70s today. In OCTOBER. Life is good. I will leave you with a picture of a cupcake I made last week for a party. I look at the picture and smile…and hope whomever ate it enjoyed every last bite of it.

Change of seasons…

2

Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 04-10-2014

We knew it was coming; the warning signs were there, the threat was posted everywhere, and yet, at 6:30 pm yesterday where was I?! In the garden, trying one last time to eek some summer out of the plants and realizing tomorrow at this time they will be frozen, wilted, and dead. The first freeze always saddens me; in March, the seeds were started with the whisper of a promise, in May they were planted with high hopes, and throughout the summer/ fall they did as promised and provided much for our family.  I harvested some green tomatoes for the first time to try them in a pickle recipe and fry some as well; I find it funny how Southerners love fried green tomatoes yet we Northerners are the ones who HAVE the green tomatoes because the vines can never seem to finish what they started before it freezes. I can’t tell you how many pounds of tomatoes were left out there last night, but it was a lot and that is just the way it is.  94 pounds were processed yesterday into salsa and spaghetti sauce; if someone had told me twenty-five years ago that I’d be hanging out with my thirteen year old on a Friday night putting tomatoes through the food mill and enjoying it, I would have laughed. I was in Texas, going out on the weekends and being young/silly/stupid/all the above. But there we were, and it was a good time; I prepped the tomatoes and he got to put them through the mill-a job every boy should get to do. He loves to see the ‘poopsicles’ -the skins and seeds which come out the end-and we run them through twice to get all the juice/pulp out. One may think that is overkill, but we got another two quarts of the delicious red stuff so it was well worth it. Here’s a picture of him and his buddies:

BTW we did have a little bit of tomato juice left from the milling and will be our soup tomorrow night. If you’ve never had fresh, homemade tomato soup, you are missing out. Campbell’s has NOTHING on the real thing-and I like that soup!

Besides being the day before the first freeze, another thing saddened/puzzled me. I went past the sedum which love to bloom in late fall and discovered a dozen dead bees on them. Earlier this week they were buzzing around and having a grand old time on the sedum, but to see them dead, hanging on the last spot they were on or resting on a leaf was just plain…disconcerting. Don’t they go somewhere for the winter like the birds? Couldn’t they have gone into one of our buildings and laid low until it warmed up again? I love bumblebees and must say this was a hard fact to see:

There’s two in the picture; one on top of the sedum and one hanging on the bottom right. Sorry, I don’t have a great camera nor are my skills top notch at picture taking…

Somehow I managed to bruise my left ring finger in Thursday night’s attempt at covering the peppers; we use rocks to hold down the blankets and ended up with a rock sandwich-rock, my finger, and another rock. Good lord that hurt! Now my ring won’t go on and what I thought was beet juice (even though I wasn’t canning any beets!) was instead a bruised finger. The price we pay for our veggies…

Hey, who ordered those snow flakes yesterday?! We were sweating a week ago…I want that weather back!

With that, it is time to get the day going. I was so proud to go through ten flats of tomatoes yesterday, but with the last minute picking, now have twelve in there to contend with. At least they are in various shades of red so they won’t have to be processed all at once-it gets to be drug out for weeks now. Goody. Stay warm, think warm thoughts, and act warmly towards one another. There-I used it as three different parts of speech. Once an English teacher, always an English teacher…

 

 

Holy cow!

2

Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 30-09-2014

Last night was a first-we nearly hit a cow on the road. Yes, only in North Dakota. We turned onto the five mile gravel and a little ways up I noticed a dark blob on the left; it was dark and thought maybe it was the shadows playing tricks on me, so I continued on. Suddenly, it was right in front of me to the right-a large black Angus. Its butt was facing me and as it turned its head, I swear I grazed the chin and if I look closely at the car, there is probably drool on it…Deer, fox, raccoon, pheasant, skunk-I thought I had seen it all until last night. How it didn’t get spooked and hit us (or vice versa) is beyond me. My car would have lost that fight as my track record with cows is poor. My husband discovered my running prowess the first year we had cattle when a momma chased me in the pasture while he stood there laughing. So much for my knight in shining armor.

There are no less than twelve boxes of tomatoes in the sun room awaiting processing and more in the garden to get off the vine before it freezes later this week. By the weekend, I will have salsa, onion pepper relish, and spaghetti sauce done…I hope/wish. All the potatoes were washed and put in storage yesterday-wow, we had some huge ones this year. My hubby likes them because he is usually the potato peeler for catering. In a month we’ll peel the small ones and can them for potato soup, salad, etc. I love canning potatoes-they are great in a pinch. My mom gave me more jalapenos (sigh) but I threw them in the fridge until mine are harvested and maybe they’ll get processed next week. Maybe. The onions will get pulled, pumpkins/squash harvested and the garden will be empty. The fall raspberries are finally producing in time for the freeze-which is why I hate growing them. Are they delicious? Yes. Are they a pain in the tush to pick? Unless you prefer the thorns, yes. Yesterday was the first time I could pick without the bees buzzing about; I was worried about bees until I realized they were having a large party in the raspberry patch-one I am not invited to attend. So, yes, the raspberries look great but like a Kardashian, their beauty won’t last.

Our cats like cantaloupe. Who knew? I threw all the peelings and insides onto the garden and they went nuts. Maybe I should put that in their bowl instead of food. All five followed me out to the garden yesterday; I was just going to toss the peels and go back in when the tomatoes started calling my name, begging to be picked. Two hours later, I had all those flats and had missed a dozen phone calls. Yes, I left my phone in the house because I thought I’d just be gone a few minutes. Who knew my son was going to call and want to know the place of his birth? Not me. I like not bringing the phone out there because it’s my one place of solitude. No artificial noises, no people, just the produce and me.

I went home to Appleton, MN, this weekend and loved it. It wasn’t a long trip, but long enough to share some laughs with good friends, take a long walk around the town and reminisce, and remember why living in a small town was a good thing. We knew the houses by who lived in them while we grew up, said hi to people who hadn’t seen us in twenty years, and felt safe the whole time. I feel for children in big cities; they don’t experience this and are missing out on a sense of community you don’t get in the suburbs. I’m glad I’m just a ‘small town girl’ as Steve Perry once sang…

The weather has turned, the threat of frost is imminent and there is much to do. Take a minute out of your busy day and look around at all we have to be thankful for-and while we’re at it, let’s protect it from those who threaten it. Here’s a picture of the potatoes-I didn’t use a tape measure this time, but they are larger than a softball. These will make some delicious mashed potatoes, or French fries, or hash browns, or scalloped potatoes…the list goes on and on.

 

 

No, I ‘cantaloupe’ with you-I’m married!

9

Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 23-09-2014

Yesterday was cantaloupe harvest day; it probably should have been last week but it just got away from me and as a result I lost four nice ones to those black beetles. I detest those things; they get into the raspberries if not picked daily, tomatoes, and especially the cantaloupe. One bores into the flesh and flips on the neon ‘OPEN’ sign-they all show up and turn the inside to mush. We love to eat this fruit and had four in the fridge already, but I will wash these thoroughly (remember the listeria outbreak? I do!), chop them up, and freeze them to make raspberry cantaloupe jam. It’s a big seller and delicious; last year I only made two cases because I put the cantaloupe in those green bags thinking it would prolong their life. Nope, just the opposite…they molded in the bags and I had to throw about eight beauties away. Lesson learned! The ripest are in the fridge and these guys are in the sun room awaiting their fate later today. I am also going to make a batch of beet pickles and big batch of salsa. It will be a busy day in the lab…

I processed over 50 cups of jalapenos yesterday and am miserable; I am beginning to suspect there is an allergic reaction going on here. I wear three pairs of gloves-the thick, dishwashing type, mind you-and while cutting/gutting them, spend the entire time sneezing and coughing; the worst part is my nose-it won’t stop running and if one stops to blow it, two pairs of gloves have to come off before a Kleenex can be used. It got so bad I forgot to take off the gloves and grabbed the tissue while my nose was pouring-I swiped my nose and the glove grazed my lips-OWWWWWW! They burned all day. I finally just used my shirt sleeve and wiped my nose; that’s what laundry is for…worse yet is the washing of the jalapenos. The oils release and it gets really bad in the kitchen-my husband walked through and started coughing-that’s how bad it gets. To solve the problem, I wrap a large bath towel around my face as if I’m a train bandit in the 1800s. It looks dumb but it works by keeping the fumes at bay and catching the snot in my nose. What? You didn’t want to know that? Too bad. They are done for now and will only have to do this one more time-after the killing frost. Until then, they can grow on the plant and turn red; I’m not picking any more until I have to. If they were small or immature, this wouldn’t be a problem, but when they’re huge, red,  and hot, yikes!

Speaking of frost, are we all loving this weather?! I am! I actually had to get water out of the rain barrels to water the peppers and flowers yesterday, but the warmth feels so good and I hope we have this until November. We are due for a long, warm fall; plenty of time to get outdoor projects done, flowers planted, beds cleaned off…all the things that never get done when the snow flies in October. Thank you, Lord!

For those who aren’t on my Facebook, you haven’t heard the great news: I’m fully licensed now! Before I could sell my product at farmers’ markets, friends, etc, but now it can go to the store and I can cater my little heart out as well. Exciting times on the farm…here’s a picture of the big news day:

Today’s is my hubby’s last day before he goes back out west to work so his request for supper tonight? If you guess it on the blog reply, I’ll send/give you a jar of Apple Pie Jam. Good luck!

Snakes, salamanders, and more…

0

Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 19-09-2014

As the song goes, “I don’t like spiders and snakes..”, but honestly, in the Midwest the snake is a Gartner and as harmless as they come. While they may startle me in the garden, I probably startle them more and since they do good things for us such as eating pests, I leave them be. Not so for our dog, Daisy. She loves to kill snakes and is pretty good at it; yesterday on our morning walk/jog/attempt at running, she proudly caught one and showed off to me. It’s pretty obvious what she’s doing-her head is high, tail wagging, and she is strutting around as if she had a prize duck in her mouth. It’s not like we have ever told her ‘good dog’ for getting one, yet she keeps it up. Silly dog.

I was digging potatoes in the gorgeous afternoon yesterday and as I lifted the fork, a big salamander appeared under the potato. Now here I did scream; I think these things are slimy, gross, and have no place in the garden, yet here it was. Who came to my rescue, but good ol’ Daisy…she grabbed it and took care of it. I am kind of hoping she isn’t eating them as I would not look at her the same; we don’t let her lick us but still, she’s a lady and shouldn’t eat things like that. As I write this, I laugh, because this is the same dog who rolls in dead carcasses. Who am I kidding?!

It was also a good day for picking grapes and so ten pounds were harvested from my front grapevine. I only have one, but it provides nice shade for the cats, screens the window from the sun, and well, makes me feel like a wine producer with my one lone plant. Not that I make wine with it; I can the juice and will make something fun with it this winter, or we’ll drink it-it’s way better for one than the stuff in the cans at the store. While I was snipping, the cats were at my feet, either begging for food or affection. Either way it was annoying and yet what did I do? Stop and pet them, which then made them bug me more. Why don’t I learn?! A car pulled up and a man came out with a lovely framed picture of our farm and wanted to know if I was interested. Maybe-except another guy was here last week and sold me a picture sans the frame-the exact picture at a different angle. I’m glad we bought the first one; you can see both my son and me in the garden and the clothes blowing in the wind. I remember working in the garden that morning and seeing the plane; our son had commented that he thought it was google or someone taking a picture. We should have waved…

I will leave you with a picture of a tomato harvested yesterday; it seems to have a nose and reminds me of ‘Olaf’ from Frozen. Enjoy this beautiful weather; normally we have a freeze this weekend so it’s a nice change!

 

 

Operation Peter Piper a little too successful…

1

Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 12-09-2014

If you’ve been following my blog (all three of you), then you’ll know I planted the peppers in the front this year instead of flowers to save them from the frost (which by the way didn’t happen last night thankfully) and give them plenty of heat. I harvested a bunch on Wednesday in anticipation of Frost Fright ’14 and was taken aback by how many and how big they were. I have never been able to get red peppers-they usually get frost bitten before they can mature to the deep red, but this year I have a box of them. I would have more had I not picked them, but I guess I’d rather pick them big, green, and unfrozen than get that touch of frost on them. I brought out a five gallon bucket thinking that would suffice for the peppers-that lasted three plants. I have a sun room full of jalapenos and green/red peppers to process and not enough time or me to do them. Baby steps, Bob, baby steps. I am very pleased with the size of both and can’t wait to make all kinds of fun things with them…once again, I will become like Forrest Gump and make stuffed peppers, pepper jelly, raspberry jalapeno jam, Ugly Sister Rhubarb Salsa, onion pepper relish….the list goes on and on.

I went to the capitol yesterday to sell at the Pride of Dakota show there and loved it-good crowds, friendly people and plenty of samples. They cleaned out the peach salsa and onion pepper relish; while I can make more of the latter, the peach salsa is done for the year. The only problem with doing a show like that is I still had to come home and cover everything in the garden in anticipation of the frost. It was almost 8 o’clock by the time I picked up my son from town, so we compromised; we covered half the garden and the other half I irrigated from 4:30-7 am to see if that would work. I did the same with the peppers in front; there’s nothing worse than covering them only to squish the poor things. Well, it worked, but only because it didn’t freeze. Now I’ll never know if that method really does work…and I still have to go out there this morning and take off the covers from the plants we did cover. The politics of gardening…

I am really excited for the Bison game and Game Day coming to Fargo, but I won’t be there; I took a catering job months ago despite knowing it was the Bison opener. I tried to get the gal to change the date but wasn’t very successful. Thank goodness, I guess, for the DVR. It’s all good; I set up a card table, newspaper and twenty pairs of gloves by the tv so I can process peppers while watching the replay. May as well multi-task! Jalapenos and I do not get along very well; between the sneezing and coughing, I wear multiple layers of gloves to avoid it getting on my hands. The first year I didn’t know any better and suffered BADLY from my ignorance. I burned my lips, eyes-anything I touched even after scrubbing my hands burned. It was a bad night.

Well, you know what is waiting for me-the veggies. No sense it putting it off any longer, so it’s time to put on some tunes (duh, 80s of course) layer up on gloves, and get busy. For those high school football fanatics-have fun tonight watching the young men play; it’s what fall is all about. That and harvest. But I digress….

 

The importance of labeling

5

Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 31-08-2014

With four large freezers and two refrigerator freezers, a lot gets frozen here. Most things are easy to figure out and each freezer has a function: one is full of frozen fruit from the garden, one for meat, another is our personal one, and the last is used for catering. Normally I label things if they are an uncertain, such as milk for baking, etc. Once in a while I won’t label an item, thinking, “I’ll remember what that is,” and then I see the container a few months later and wonder what is in it. This philosophy came back to bite me big time yesterday when I was making my delicious Amish iced coffee. I make coffee and almond milk ice cubes once a week and store them in a Ziploc bag-it’s a simple idea which works well. I spied another Ziploc bag a little ways back and though maybe I had made some cubes awhile back and forgot about them; just to be sure, I opened the bag and sniffed them; they smelled coffee-ish, so decided to put three big cubes in my coffee. I started drinking it and thought it had a new taste to it-almost like molasses, and decided it wasn’t terrible, so I kept sipping it as I worked in the kitchen. The sips got harder to enjoy as the ice melted and STILL I couldn’t figure out what was different. With half a glass left, I finally gave up the ghost and dumped it; I simply couldn’t stand to drink it anymore. Then the pondering began; what the heck did I put in that Ziploc bag? It hit me in the afternoon when I was making supper-beef stock cubes. I had made some beef stock awhile back and thought having a few cubes in the freezer would be nice when making soup. YUCK. To think I had that in my coffee and drank half of it. Important lesson learned-label, label, label.

The plumbing and excavating work is done and now the certification process will begin on Tuesday. Here’s what the front flower bed looks like now:

The trick now will be to plant things around it to hide it; if you have any ideas, please let me know. It’s full sun and good soil…I am awful at flower beds which is why I have asked the ‘Master Flower Gardener’ in the family-my sister-in-law. She has the most beautiful beds on their farm and if I could get this one to have a semblance of any of them I’d be in heaven. Vegetables? Love to plant and care for. Flowers? Since I can’t make anything edible out of them, I find them pretty but complicated.

Saturday was an absolutely gorgeous day and the Bison winning was icing on the cake. Those are the kind of fall days I will take from now until November. Sunny skies, low 70s, light breeze-perfect day. The tomatoes are coming around and salsa will be on the agenda Monday-the first of many days of salsa making, I’m certain. We pulled the peas and harvested the last of them, but the beans and cucumbers are still making an effort. I dug up all the garlic to dry and would like to get the potatoes and some of the onions pulled.. I planted 300 in three plantings, so the other two will be before the first frost. The peppers are looking great in the front flower bed; I think that was a great idea and will do it again. They love the heat, black plastic and shelter from the wind. Some are turning red-I have never had that happen before; it usually freezes before that happens.

I am really worried about our cats; it is truly a Peyton Place out there and there is no end in sight. See if you can keep up…The grandma, LaBamba, had a batch of kittens two years ago and produced Tigger. Tigger gave birth last summer to Loki with her dad, Tiger, as the father, who was attacked by a raccoon and died. Loki has stepped in and is sowing his wild oats everywhere; he had a batch of two kittens with his grandma, LaBamba, this spring and she’s due again in a day or two with him as the father again. Meanwhile, he also sired a batch with his mom, Tigger, and she gave birth but must have abandoned them because she is always up at the house and is letting LaBamba’s kittens nurse on her now. Yet two days ago when she wandered up to the house she was hissing at them and LaBamba. Now they are besties out there, with her licking the two spring kittens, letting them nurse, etc. It’s appalling and fascinating at the same time. Winter is coming and it naturally weeds out the weakest ones; we have five right now and will probably have four when winter is over. LaBamba’s fall kittens never make it…nature has a way of working things out. Please don’t suggest spaying/neutering; it’s really expensive to do it and we made that mistake one year…we paid big dollars to spay a cat only to have her disappear a month later. With the coyotes, raccoons, cold winters and more around here, it just doesn’t make sense to us.

Soap opera time is over; enjoy the unofficial last day of summer today/tomorrow, because for Minnesota, school starts on Tuesday!

The takeover has begun

2

Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 28-08-2014

I was going to post this yesterday but couldn’t get a video to load no matter how hard I tried, so I finally gave up and am posting this on Thursday. Sorry!

The garden is producing more than I can keep up with right now; the zucchini, corn, tomatoes, beans, basil…the list goes on. Tuesday was corn freezing day and since I’m on my own it took the entire morning; we husked them the previous night and stored them in the fridge for this morning’s boiling bath bonanza. After 8 minutes in there, it was off to the ice water bath  and then into the bags. I let them freeze up for a few hours and seal the bags; we used to try to seal them right away but they are too moist and it rarely worked. Now the air comes right out and we have vacuum packed corn on the cob for the rest of the year! I’ve done 120 ears total and that should be good; the rest will be made into cut or creamed corn. I did 50 ears like that yesterday, too…ok, only 47 ears because I ate three for breakfast. How can one NOT eat corn on the cob when it’s fresh out of the pot? The kitchen smelled so good, the cobs were calling my name, and I decided to eat one…or two…three ears later I was buttery, salty, and happy.

The tomatoes are slowly coming around, but these last two cool days have not helped them any; I’ve harvested enough to make a batch of salsa and will try to do that today while the electric company plans a two hour outage-let’s just wait for the busiest time of year for this to happen. I’ll tip beans in the dark, I guess. There is a big brown bag of them calling my name to get in the jars and out of my hair. The big fun happened yesterday when the excavator came and dug out the hole for the holding tank which will be connected to the commercial kitchen-the last piece of the puzzle. Here’s a picture of it:

It was big enough to fit my Rav4 into it and the cats loved it (for obvious reasons). Since we knew he was going to do this, I removed the flowers last week except for the grape vine; he was kind enough to leave it so the grapes could finish ripening. What a nice guy. Then the guy from Jamestown came and lowered the cement holding tank into the hole; that was both impressive and scary and I’m glad there was no wind yesterday. Here’s what that looked like:

Today they are coming to finish the hole and connect it to the plumbing inside; they will need to reroute it from our septic to this but hopefully that goes without a hitch. Before long, the kitchen will be certified and the website will be open for business. Such exciting times here…I have decided if you need a body to disappear, this is the place to go; I’ll give the Mafia a run for their money. Kidding!

I just talked my son who is home from the Navy into tipping beans so I need to get out there and help him. Such a nice boy…with that in mind, have a great Wednesday and make it your goal to do one nice thing for someone just because. Now that it’s Thursday, thank someone for being a friend; one can never have too many of those…

Advice for the freshman class…

8

Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 24-08-2014

Tags:

Perhaps this should have been last week’s post but it didn’t occur to me until I read the paper and saw the Facebook posts; the class of 2014 has moved in the dorms to become freshman all over again. This time it will be different and the difference is YOU. No longer will (should) you have your parents waking you up, making sure there is breakfast food to be eaten, washing your clothes and keeping your social calendar in order. There’s more, so much more not mentioned but you get the drift-now you have to do all those hidden things your parents did for you without a thought. The purpose of living in the dorm is to give you a buffer between living completely under someone else’s care/eye and living in an apartment on your own. Take advantage of the situation and realize it’s a GOOD THING. You are on your own which involves studying, going to classes, maybe getting a part time job, and fixing your own messes. For eighteen years, your parents have provided for you physically, mentally, and socially. You grew up in a small town where everyone knew you, your last name, your family heritage; now you’re in a place where few, if any, know you were the king of the hill back in your old town. It’s a big transition-especially the mess fixing part; do not expect your parents to do this for you long distance! As a parent, it’s hard to let go of the fixing part, but if we want our children to grow, it has to be done. They will fall and get a boo-boo we can’t fix; all we can do is be there for support. Let them fix it so they know either not to do it again or learn the art of getting out of a fix on their own. Too many parents are still being a helicopter even after high school is over-at what point do you expect your child to grow up and be on their own? How old were you? Think about that one, parents…

This blog may go all over the place and I seriously considered writing an outline; my former students know I LOVE outlines; they took a lot of notes in outline form and personally, I think their thoughts were better organized because of it. So first piece of advice: remember what you learned in school and apply it to the real world. You may not use algebra everyday, but you WILL use the written and oral language on a daily basis! Study smart, not hard. Keep yourself organized and on top of things; you may have been able to get deadlines pushed back in high school, but your professors will not be as kind to you because you had a game the night before. And by the way, you will use algebra-you just won’t realize it…

Get yourself out there; join clubs, groups, church, sports-whatever, but start making new friends with people who have common interests. In a small town, you were forced to be friends with the people around you because there were only so many of you, your parents were friends, or just because your last name was a biggie. You don’t have that cocoon anymore, so make friends with people who share your interests. News flash: if you sit in your dorm room and text your old buddies all day, that is not making friends. This is a tough one, but you have to put yourself out there and try for the first time. You will make some lifelong friends with people who live far away from you, and in the process, will learn much about others and yourself. The way we live in rural North Dakota is NOT how the rest of the world lives; kuchen, ‘you betcha’, and using ketchup or ranch dressing as a food group is not the norm, folks. It saddens me so see former students come home every weekend because they’re homesick and/or don’t have any friends. Getting homesick is expected; you need to get over the hump by getting involved and having fun in Fargo/Bismarck/Minot on the weekends. Come home, yes, but not every single weekend-how am I supposed to bring you cookies and hug you at the Bison football games?! When I went to NDSU back in the 80s, I was the only one in my class to do so and I had a choice-make some friends or be incredibly lonely. I got a job on campus with a fun bunch of people, went to church and did some of the activities there, and made friends with people in class. When I was forced to transfer to Moorhead State to finish my degree, I made friends with two girls on the daily bus ride who to this day keep in touch.

Don’t quit. This is the biggest and last piece of advice; this won’t be easy for you and it isn’t supposed to be. Do NOT give up because you forgot to study, turn in a paper, etc. Change majors, change colleges, change dorm rooms/apartments/roommates, but do not stop going to school. The real world will be there when you’re done; don’t be in a rush to get into it. College is a transition time between relying on someone else to manage your world to YOU being the CEO of your own little life. Take these two, four, or more years to figure out who you are, what you want to accomplish with your life, and where you want to be in ten years. Unless you plan on going out to the oil fields, no job you get without a degree is going to pay the bills successfully. Break up with your boyfriend? Tragic, but no reason to quit. Flunked a class? Yes, it will happen; retake it and move on. The high grades you got in high school may or may not be there, so adapt and learn. Fight with a roomie? Find a new one-the college will help you. Better yet, try to work it out first; texting doesn’t count. Ever. Please don’t think, “I’ll just take this semester off and go back next year.” Next year will never happen and the regret you’ll feel when you realize there’s no where to go will be deep. You don’t need a breather; that’s what summer break is for. Sweat it out, get some help, take a deep breath and try again. DO NOT QUIT!

So as you begin a fresh, new, chapter in your life remember there are people in your corner who want to see you succeed, but want you to do it on your own two feet. Get them wet, get them muddy, and emerge an adult with goals and dreams. Those of us you left to start your new life will be rooting for you every step of the way and want to see you with a degree from whatever school you set your heart on attending. I will leave you with a picture of me my freshman year at NDSU; I lived in Dinan Hall (whinin’ Dinan) and met Lisa, who to this day is a good friend.

Day of Reckoning

6

Posted by Brenda Gorseth | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 22-08-2014

It happens every other year on our farm; chicken butchering day! If you have in your mind a picture of a sunny day, cool breeze, and a fun-filled day of laughter amidst the butchering you would be far from the truth. To be fair, the past few times we’ve done it has not been bad; friends have come to help, there is a lot of laughter, and together we all get the job done. This year, however, my hubby has to work on the weekends and so no friends were able to help during a week day; thus, it was him, me, and our thirteen year old son to butcher twenty-six chickens on our own. It rained Wednesday night, so the air was muggy, still, but (thankfully) overcast. We decided to do twelve on Thursday and fourteen on Friday; the first day we freeze them whole and the second day they are cut up. Be warned-if you are a PETA lover, you should skip today’s blog and go find one on how to make a better veggie burger or something. Death will be pictured, but it is the circle of life; it is done quickly and hey, exactly how do you think your chicken is processed?! They don’t willingly lay down and stop the heart beating…Day one is behind us and as you read this, day two will be in full swing. By late this afternoon, all twenty-six will be freezing nicely and make delicious meals for our family for the next two years; it takes our little family two weeks to eat a chicken from start to finish.

Here is the roving pen they call home; it gets moved everyday so they have fresh grass; our son goes in the pen and pulls out the chicken for my hubby to chop off the head. We lay them in the grass while they finish bleeding out. No, you are not going to see a picture of the chopping block or a head flying-we have standards here…

It’s best not to look too closely at hubby’s legs since they are not pretty; we heat the water to a scalding temperature and dunk the chicken in the pail to help in removing feathers; all three of us pull them off as fast as possible; the cooler the skin temperature, the harder the feathers are to remove. We lay them on a tarp as we do this; some use a plucker, but we found it bruised the wings and didn’t do a great job, so it’s the old fashioned method for us.

They are placed on a table in our quonset where we chop off the legs and finish picking off all the feathers; then they go in a cold water bath until hubby and son (not me) gut them. I find other ways to stay busy; organize tools, sweep the dirt floor, pet a kitty-you get the idea. This is my least favorite part, but these two love it; we feed the innards to our cats and dog-those animals are happy and fat at the end of the night. Our dog also loves to gnaw on the legs and heads…please don’t let her lick you if you come to visit.

They have been gutted, cooled, and cleaned; now they are on a table with a fan on, drying off the skin so we can use a torch to singe off the fine hairs. Did you know chicken had hair? They do, and the only way to remove them (in our opinion) is with a torch. We go over the entire surface swiftly and it burns them off like butter. They go back into an ice bath, get a good scrubbing, and are ready for the final step.

I weigh and wrap the chickens first in saran wrap and then in a two gallon Ziploc bag. The cut up pieces will go in a Food Saver bag and vacuum sealed. Because we butchered almost two weeks earlier than normal, the chickens weighed in at around 4.5-5.5 lbs each; we like 6-7 lbs., but beggars can’t be choosers. These will do well for us!

There you have it; butchering on the farm. If you want to help next time, let me know. We don’t pay you in money, but in a chicken raised on grass in the fresh air with no sodium injected into it or anything else you can’t pronounce. It’s the weekend already and school is right around the corner for college students and Carrington. Summer is slipping away, so make a big effort to do something you can’t do in the winter…