Saturday, March 27, 2010

Grandma's Birthday! by, Emily

Last weekend we celebrated Grandma Berry's Birthday. We were planning to have a tea with her at noon, so while Mom picked Grandma up and ran some errands, I got everything ready. I baked a cake, made bagels, etc., while Jonny faithfully washed the dishes. :) At noon Mom and Grandma arrived home and we sat down for tea. The first course was fresh bagels with homemade herb cream cheese on top and an apple and walnut salad, as well as some mango tea. Next we had canned nectarines and pineapples topped with whip cream and cinnamon, chocolate cookies, and some little candies. Yum! Later that afternoon the whole family left to go to "Zellas", a restaurant in Hutchinson with delicious food. After dinner we came back, packed up some things, and me, Mom, Aunt Nadine, and Grandma all left to go to the Pillar Inn B&B. It was so much fun! The big house is beautifully decorated, and we stayed in the luxurious Grand Suite. After settling in, all four of us put on our suits and sat, or should I say squeezed into the the whirl pool for around an hour or so. :) Then we ate the chocolate cake, played a game of cards, and talked...and talked......and talked some more! :) Then around two o'clock we went to bed. The next morning we had a delicious breakfast, then left and shopped for a while. Grandma stayed the weekend with us. It was so much fun! Grandma is a wonderful Grandma and we are all so grateful for her. Happy Birthday! We love you!

P.S. (from Mindy)
When Grandma comes out to the farm she is always working, partly because there is always work to do, and also because Grandma likes to stay busy. :) But this time we took her out and pamper her, which was really fun! After having her here for four days Brandon said, "You know Mom, Grandma is one of those people that a person just never gets tired of having around. She could be here all the time and I wouldn't mind a bit." :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Starting Seeds

We have been in the process of planting seeds since the end of February. Most of the seeds have germinated and are growing, but there are some I am still waiting on. Rosemary, for example, can take 20-90 days just to germinate!

In an effort to extend our growing season and have more space for starting seeds, Mike built me a little "hot house". It's made out of six glass patio doors, four (on their sides) screwed together to make a square and two across the top. Last summer a friend who was working as a carpenter remodeling homes saved all the glass doors and windows that were replaced and supposed to be thrown away, and instead brought them to us. What a friend! :) So last fall we put some of the glass over straw bales to keep our greens worked great! In fact I noticed, when I was in the garden the other day, that some of those greens are growing again (the glass is still over them). :)
Yesterday the temperature outside was around 50 degrees, but in my hot house it was 80 degrees. I was temped to go sit in it! :) As it gets warmer, I'll have to open up one of the doors a bit. Now today, it's barely 30 degrees outside (that's Minnesota for ya!), so I put a little heater in there and am keeping the temp at about 70 degrees since I have seeds that I am trying to germinate.
Growing plants really is easy, it just requires a lot of babysitting! :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Boating Season

We now have lake shore property! :) The children enjoy boating, in the boat Brandon made or in the big sleds. Last weekend Mike took the two little guys and Emily across the big slough and dropped them off on the ridge, which is now an island, and let them stay there for the afternoon to enjoy an "adventure". :) They started building a log cabin. Mike rowed out and brought them lunch, and then Brandon went out in the late afternoon to pick them up. They came home wet, cold, and muddy......but happy. :)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Hot Rod

Brandon has been working feverishly to get his hot rod running. :) Someone offered him this van last year, and he willingly accepted the gift knowing that it needed work. Since he will be getting his license soon, he figured he better get his wheels going. :) He has been ordering parts...and more parts. We have learned that if we can't find Brandon we just need to look under his car. :)

I worry about him driving (as any mother would), am sad that he is growing up so fast, but I am excited about all the errands he'll be able to run for me. ;)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Are you eating your SPROUTS?

Germinated edible seeds are called sprouts. They are literally explosions of life that can supply you with greens year-round. Would you believe that, pound for pound, sprouts have the largest amount of nutrients of any food?
The Chinese are credited for discovering the value of the sprouted seed. On long ocean voyages they carried mung beans, sprouted them and consumed them to prevent scurvy.
When sprouted, the vitamin content of the seed increases significantly, and the composition of the grain or seed changes in numerous beneficial ways. Sprouting increases vitamin B content, and all sprouts contain more vitamin C than oranges by weight. The amount of Carotene increases dramatically- sometimes eight fold. Even broccoli sprouts contain more nutrients than broccoli florets. Being a tremendous source of antioxidants, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, selenium, and zinc, one can hardly argue the value in including these nutritious greens in your diet.
The bran of all grains contains a substance called phytic acid which inhibits absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc. Sprouting neutralizes phytic acid, possibly one of it's greatest benefits. Needless to say, this is the reason why we should soak all grains before consuming them, like the instructions said on the old oatmeal boxes our grandmothers used to buy. But this is a topic for another post! :)

We all know that even too much of good thing can be bad! Eating a large amount of raw sprouts can be irritating to the system, so occasionally cook (or I should say lightly steam) them, adding them to soups and casseroles.

(Soaking broccoli seeds)

(Inverted jar at an angle, so seeds can drain)

The method for sprouting is basically the same for all seeds and grains, but the length of time needed for full germination varies. First you soak the seeds in water. Smaller seeds, like broccoli seeds are soaked for 3-6 hours, larger ones like mung beans require 5-10 hours of soaking. After soaking, simply rinse the seeds 2-3 times a day until they are fully sprouted. In between rinses be sure to invert the jar at an angle to allow the seeds to drain. Once they are ready, put the sprouts in a bowl of cold water and skim off the floating hulls with a small strainer. Then strain the sprouts and store them in the refrigerator in a glass container- a plastic bag will suffocate the plant, which is still living.

(Seeds starting to sprout)

As you can see from my pictures, I use an inexpensive wide mouth glass canning jar with a sprouting lid. I got my lid from our local natural food store (Dan and Becky's Market), but I have also seen them in a magazine called "High Mowing Organic Seeds", for $5.00. (As a side note, I know nothing about this company, we do not get our seeds from them.)

Sprouting is very simple, fun, and rewarding. Bless your family by growing these little plants with exceptional nutritional value, especially if you live in Minnesota, where we have long cold winters and a short growing season. :)

P.S. I am sure if you googled "Sprouting Charts" you would be able to find a chart (I have one in a book I own) with information on how much seed to use, how long to soak it, how often to rinse it, how long it takes to germinate, and the average length of the sprout when fully germinated.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Baby Chicks! By, Emily :)

On Thursday morning the long awaited telephone call came. The post office was calling to let us know that our chicks had arrived! They are laying hens...12 leghorns, 12 gold stars, 12 Americanas, and three roosters. There are about forty all together, as there's normally a few extras. Anyways, after milking, me, Ben, Jonny, and Dad all got into the truck and drove the looooooonnnngggg 5 minute drive to pick them up. When we FINALLY arrived, me, Ben, and Jonny went to the door and rang the bell. In a minute the door opened, and a lady handed us a peeping box! Excitedly, we got into the warm truck and cut open the box with the scissors we remembered to bring. We opened the lid and there they all were...peeping and complaining loudly, so loud it almost hurt our ears! They were SOOOOOOO cute! I immediately noticed one laying down on it's back, it's feet sort of stuck up in the air, the others trampling it. I thought it was dead, but when I picked it up, it moved slightly. It's eyes were shut and it lay in my hand limply. All the rest were happy and healthy. When we got home I took the chick into the house and gave it water, then held it in front of the fireplace. I was sure it was going to die. But after about an hour or so of sitting in front of the fireplace, it was running around, peeping, and pecking my pen while I did my math next to it. :) The chicks had a hard time keeping warm the first day or so, and we had a couple heaters in the chicken coop, but now they're all as happy as can be and in about five months they'll be laying eggs for your table! :)