Sunday, December 6, 2009


Every year we try to get up to Breezy Point for a week. This year's vacation provided us with a new challenge - milk goats! We are so thankful for our wonderful neighbors who were willing to milk our goats, morning and night, for a whole week! (Lena, we couldn't have done it without you!! Thank You!!) :)
We love Breezy Point! Up there we do a lot of swimming, reading, shopping, playing, sleeping, and some resting! :)

We figured out that if we went to the pool right at 9am, when it opened, we would have the pool to ourselves until about 10am. After swimming we headed back to our unit for math.
Isn't it terrible to have to do math on vacation? Getting behind in math can be really miserable, so we faithfully plug away at it. (And I am a stickler for completing school books by the end of the year.)

Every afternoon we spent time in the gym playing family soccer - three against three. Instead of coming home from vacation relaxed and refreshed, I came home with stiff muscles and lots of bruises and scrapes. :) We had way too much fun playing soccer, and sometimes it even got pretty competitive. :) Speaking of competitive, climbing the fire tower is another way the kids compete. This year all the boys were brave enough to get to the top. When not competing physically, the children are pitted against each other in card games or board games.

We had our Thanksgiving dinner up there this year. Of course the turkey was awesome! :) On Black Friday we went shopping in Brainerd and later in the day to Nisswa. We have our favorite shops we go to every year. In the evening, they light up the town with lights (every building is covered in lights and they turn them all on at the same time.) Then they have horse drawn hay rides and Christmas music playing. The fun evening was brought to a close with an awesome fireworks display. It was a great day!

Since it's good for our children to practice mealtime etiquette, we go to Antlers restaurant every year, where they experience fine dining. We each bring one set of nice clothes along just for this occasion. :) Then Mike and I always have one night that we go out alone. We spend this time planning, which is what we do on most of our dates. Since our vision for our 2010 season is not clear yet, this tends to be the topic of our "talks".

It's a blessing to be able to get away from it all for a week and have some fun family time together. Again, we are so thankful for our friends that were willing to do chores for us.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


One thing I love about life on the farm is the unexpected events that happen. Life is NEVER dull! You can try to plan, but so much depends on the weather and nature. Animals don't always behave as you plan for them to, as much as you try, and some things just don't grow or they grow in some strange way (like our summer squash this year). Understanding these events can be troublesome, you can usually find answers, but some times life is a mystery. :)

While there is nothing mysterious about lambing, we do know how it happens :), yet nevertheless, today was a total surprise! Mike was checking the sheep water tank, amid the falling snow, and there standing before him were two adorable little lambs!
"WHAT! LAMBS! It's snowing, we are not supposed to be lambing until spring!"
Well, another one of those unexpected events! :) Obviously, we did not get our ram separated from our ewes soon enough, or the cold spell we had in early summer may have caused the ewes to go into heat early, whatever the case, we have new lambs! Emily named them (two boys) Frosty and Snowflake (Daddy's suggestions).

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Deer Harvest

Our family was blessed to harvest three deer this fall. Deer season is something we all look forward to, yet are glad when it's over. Sitting on stand takes a up a lot of time, but also works patience into one's life. :)
Emily shot a beautiful eight point buck opener morning. After sitting on stand for a whole ten minutes (that didn't take much patience :) ), he came walking by. I shot a button buck a couple days later, and Brandon shot a nice doe that week too.

Since the freezers are almost full, I guess it's time to kick back and enjoy some venison stew, or better yet some homemade venison jerky. My children are usually seen during the day sitting at the kitchen table chewing on jerky while working on their math problems. :)
As a joke, one of the children told Grandpa that I shot a twelve point buck. To follow through with the joke, Mike and I attempted to put twelve points on my button buck (after it had been hanging in the garage). :)

Garden Salad in December?

For some reason going to the garden in December to pick spinach, radishes, beet greens, arugula, broccoli, and parsley for a salad is even more rewarding than it is in the summer. To think that I may have out-smarted the cold weather, at least for a month or two, brings a bit more satisfaction.

Early in the fall, we planted some cold-hardy crops in the garden so they could get a good start before cold weather struck. Then late in the season, Mike put some straw bales around these planting and set used glass windows and doors over them -a perfect little cold frame! This is the first year we have experimented with extending our harvest. Having put very little time and energy into it, we are still enjoying the fruits of our summer labor. It's been worth it to enjoy a fresh December salad!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Tomorrow we will relax (unusual for our family :) ) and reflect on our blessings. We are so thankful......for you, for your patronage, and for a year full of bountiful blessings. Getting to know all of you and being able to serve your family by providing you with real food, grown locally and organically, is something our family enjoyed and is grateful for. We hope your experience at our farm was just as enjoyable. Please pray for our family as we evaluate the 2009 season and consider how we will continue to serve you in 2010.
For those of you who will dine on one of our turkeys tomorrow, we trust it will be the most delicious turkey you've ever had. Brandon is grateful for the opportunity to grow them for you.
Happy Thanksgiving!
The Housman Family

Friday, November 13, 2009

My Amazing Husband!

Mike is one of those guys who is good at everything he does. The goal of every member of this family is to beat him in checkers, or any game for that matter, but he's just too good! Everything he does, he does well.
One time we were at a family picnic and a bunch of guys were having a wood splitting contest. Before they started someone asked me if I thought Mike would win. I confidently said, "Yes, he wins at everything he does!" And he did win! He's full of determination and a little competitiveness! :)
Not only is he a winner :), he is also very skilled with his hands. On a rare occasion he will make dinner, and it's always an amazing meal! Or he will create something, like a chicken plucker, that's bigger and better than anything else out there.
One talent I've enjoyed most of his, is his wood working skills. He has done a lot of work in our house, building me cabinets, bookshelves, you name it!
Here are some picture of a cider press that he made this fall. It's so awesome! We pressed our grapes and crab apples with it. The juice was used to make jelly and frozen for concentrate.

It sure is wonderful having such a handyman around! :) And, NO, you can't borrow him! :) HE'S MINE! :)

Picking Grapes

One fall activity we all look forward to is picking grapes! We have grape vines growing all over our property. Picking grapes usually takes an afternoon or two. We load up all the ladders in the four wheeler trailer and enough buckets for everyone, then head out on our "grape" adventure!

This year we had some friends join us for an afternoon of picking. The guys tackled the vines in the tall trees, while us ladies picked the stuff they pulled down. My monkeys, I mean boys, would scurry up the trees, grab hold of a vine, and hang on until they hit the ground. Or they would just swing from the vine until it finally broke loose. Who needs a swing set? :)

Eating the grapes fresh off the vine is a real treat.....all those antioxidants! :) You just have to be careful not to confuse the Grape vine and the Virginia Creeper vine. They occasionally end up twisted around each other making it look like one vine. Virgina Creeper is poisonous, but it also tastes horrible, so it's hard to get poisoned from it. And as fall lingers on, the Virginia Creeper vine turns red (leaves and stems), making it obviously different from Grape vine.

Here is a picture of Virginia Creeper.

Making grape juice and grape jelly are our two favorite ways to use our grapes. For the juice, we just freeze the concentrate in 2 cup containers and then add water and sweetener (organic cane juice crystals) when we are ready to drink some. It's are real treat in the dead of winter! If we are planning to mix up some juice, chances are we're either eating homemade pizza or popping some popcorn. :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The kittens find new homes

Once again Emily has managed to sell all her kittens, which Dad is happy about! As much as she hates to see them go, she is always glad to see them move to good homes. And she looks forward to another litter (hopefully not until spring) .....and the opportunity to name more kittens (the best part)! :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


As I mentioned earlier, our friend Myrtle turned 101 last month! She was 99 years old when we met her, and she has changed very little since then. Talking to her, you would never be able to guess her age!
Our family has thoroughly enjoyed the time we have gotten to spend with Myrtle. She has become a dear friend, and really part of the family.
Here are some pictures from her birthday party.
She had asked Emily to play the piano for her; she loves listening to Emily play.

In this picture, you can see Myrtle in her hula skirt being interviewed by the director of social services. She loves this skirt, and wore it for her 100th birthday also! :)

Happy Birthday, Myrtle! We love you!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Wedding

A couple at our church had asked me if I could help decorate for their outdoor wedding. The day after Family Day, I began planning. I had one week to come up with something. I had some ideas previously, but nothing concrete.

While washing dishes, and gazing out the window wondering what I was going to do, I noticed my white picket fences that border my herb garden. Mike made them, and they are so pretty. When he made them, he put tubing on the back of them with a steel rod supporting them so they could easily be removed for mowing (or in this case transported to another yard). So that sparked the idea for a garden theme.

The bride's family had a friend that decorates for weddings. This lady very generously allowed me to use all of her materials. She had arches, bows, and tons of tulle.

Needing a space to work (and make a mess), I decided to turn part of the garage into my workshop for the week. In an effort to keep the cost down, I tried to be creative with things I had on my own property. I decide to make bouquets to hang from my white fences. I gathered herbs (yarrow, chive flowers, and sage), hydrangeas, cedar branches, maple leaves, and even asparagus leaves from my garden. I sprayed some of the flowers white, and some with a clear gloss to preserve them. Once the bouquets were put together, I hung them in my garage upside down so they would dry straight and then stand erect when upright. Then I added a tulle and lace bow to each bouquet. You can see from the pictures how I added tulle to the fences and hung the bouquets from the fences. I put cedar branches and yarrow over the arches.

Brandon agreed to spray paint my rusting rod iron tea table white so I could use it for the unity candle. I placed this under the arch, between the fences.
The couple was able to get 25 church pews from a church that was getting torn down. They also rented white chairs. (The guest count was over 600 people!) I wanted to make it feel like a church, even though it was in a big beautiful yard in the country, on a lake.

Graciously some friends that own a nursery allowed Mike and I to load up our 16 ft. enclosed trailer with whatever we wanted to use for the wedding. This gave me so much material to work with -beautiful planters, shrubs, and small trees.

In the front yard, I put a set of fences with an arch and plants to make it feel like you were entering the church. Then I did the same thing at the back of the chairs, so it felt like you were entering the sanctuary.

There were several tents, to which we added tulle and bows. Then planters were placed all over the yard. I am so thankful for all the help I had putting everything up.

The day was perfect -sunny and gorgeous! It was tons of fun....but not something I will be able to do very often! :)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Family Day on the Farm

What a fun day! Sunshine, good food, good music, family, friends, and lots of good laughs....what more could you ask for? I really feel bad is terrible to have so much fun at the expense of your guests! :) But I know others had just as much fun! :)

We sure enjoyed having the Mahlstedt family play again this year. They even surprised us with a little singing, which was great! They are a very talented family!

After music we ate lunch and then started the games. My favorite game, by far, is the Barnyard game. First the players draw an animal name (there are two of each kind), then they put on a blindfold and make the sound of their animal. For example, if they picked "cow" they have to walk around blindfolded calling "moo moo" listening for the other cow. For some reason I find it hilarious to watch. I actually had pains in my stomach from laughing so hard! The noise is deafening, and to see people wandering around so helplessly making animal calls is hysterical!

After the Barnyard game, we played "Grain Race". Here the couples had to race to see who could eat their "grain" the fastest. Al made this game extra funny with his chicken antics! :)

Then came the Egg Toss Game. The partners toss the egg back and forth, taking a step back with each toss until one egg is left unbroken. Emily and Kaylin won this one!

Next we had couples line up to give their best Rooster and Hen calls. Some roosters sounded like they were dying, and some hens sounded like an animal I am not familiar with. :) Jay and Janell took home the prize for this game - a fat juicy chicken (from our freezer). :)

We had a lot of prizes, all from our farm. Apple pie made with apples from our apple trees, Emily's crab apple jelly, canned beans, eggs, homemade bread, cookies, cinnamon rolls, watermelon, crab apple juice, crab apple syrup, Boxelder syrup, barbecue sauce, and dill relish. So even though our guest did suffer some embarrassment during the games, they were rewarded with yummy prizes. :)

Name that Vine Crop was the next game. We weren't going to play this game, but it was put back on the schedule by popular demand (Grandma wanted to play it again! Sorry Al!). Here the contestants guessed the name of the crop as fast as they could with a little surprise at the end. Watch the video and enjoy! :)

After that game we all headed out to the sheep pasture for sheep herding. In this game a team of two had to herd the sheep between two posts. The pair with the fastest time won. Uncle Kevin and Isaiah Mahlstedt took home the prize. Uncle Kevin lucked out on this one, being teamed up with a country boy, whose family also raises sheep! :)

Then it was on to Mutton Busting. While this game was fun to watch, it was also somewhat of a flop. Mike wanted to use the lambs because they were much smaller than the ewes, and that way there was less chance of someone getting hurt. But the problem was that when Mike finally got a child on a lamb, the lamb could only go so far before it buckled under the weight.

Here Ben is attempting to bust a lamb. The last game was a fun one to watch. It was called "Pa and Ma Do Chores". The couples raced the clock in this game; the couple with the fastest time won. First they had to get dressed, then collect two eggs, milk the goat, fill the water pails, and lastly carry a sack of grain, the milk, and the eggs across the finish line. Steve and Cindy Kerzman, two bona fide city slickers won this game (to much surprise)! :) They took home a loaf of whole wheat bread, a dozen eggs, and an apple pie. Good job guys! :)

These pictures are of my parents playing the game.

We planned to have more games, but the time got away from us. For the rest of the afternoon people visited, some rode four wheelers on the trails, and some played Redneck soccer (no rules). Then Emily organized some games for the children. We finished off the evening with a campfire and s'mores.

At the campfire, Emily enjoyed "getting" people with her whoopie cushion. It was pretty funny! One of our guest said, "How many indignities do I have to suffer from this family!" We all laughed hysterically! ;)

What a day!! Thank you to everyone that helped clean up, and to everyone that brought food. 'Til next year.........

Posted by the Family Day on the Farm Director :)

P.S. Also, we were so thankful to have our friend Myrtle at our family day this year. She will be 101 this month. Amazingly she stayed most of the day. She enjoyed watching the games and seeing the farm animals.

This is a picture of Myrtle, our oldest guest, with my niece, Isabella, our youngest guest (two months).

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