Farming, but definitely not in stilettos…

Oh, hay season…

It’s really a love-hate relationship:

Love the smell, love the full bellies it will provide this winter, love the family time, love being outside, and for whatever reason I really love to rake hay.

Hate the allergies, hate the LONG days, hate the stress (more on that later), and I especially hate grouchy Hubs.

For those of you that don’t know a lot about farming, hay season is critical. For cattle producers, it’s what you rely on to feed cattle through the cold months when grass doesn’t grow. But it’s not an easy process. You cut, then you ted (it’s like a fluffer so the hay dries better/faster), then you rake, then you bale… and the whole time you pray to God that it doesn’t rain – AT ALL. If it does, it could ruin every bit of hay (sometimes HUNDREDS of acres). So you plan the best you can and try to time when you start cutting the best you can, but the reality is – weathermen aren’t great at their jobs.

Why so stressed?

The weather is completely out of your control but totally dictates your success and ability to feed your animals.

And that means grouchy Hubs.

But when it goes well, it’s rewarding. It’s good to know your cows (our girls) will have what they need. And it’s even better to get it over with.

So I promised funny farm adventures…

Let’s talk about the last 48+ hours:

Monday @ noon

Hubs: You cannnn help tomorrow, right?

Stilettos: I mean, yeah, but it’s not ideal.

H: I really need you.

S: Ok (duh… I tryyyy to be a decent human)

Monday night

S: I’ve got supper ready, want me to bring it to the field?

H: Too busy. Not hungry.

S: Umm, ok?

Anger issues occur.

Tuesday at 5:30am

H: GET UP!!! Lot to do today!

S: ughhhhhh ughhhhhh moan moan moan

6:30am

Moving cattle around, getting equipment to the field.

9am

I start raking. Life is good. Hubs starts baling with brand new shiny baler. It’s not adjusted correctly. Life not so good.

11am

We’re up and running!

12pm

Sandwich/Outdoor pee break

12:10pm

Raking hay, enjoying life.

3pm

S: I’m done!!! Whewwwwwwww!

H: Good, I’m going to need you to get in the skid steer and wrap the hay!

S: 1) I’ve never driven the skid steer 2) I’ve never operated the wrapper 3) You want me to do this ALONE?!?!?

**sometimes you bale wet hay then wrap it (looks like giant marshmallows) and it ferments and turns into what I like to call cattle-crack**

In my head I know this is a terrrrrrrible idea, but as Hubs said…”who else is there to do it?”

Touché Hubs, touché.

So off I go. I’m getting the hang. I’m managing ok. Hay is turning into giant marshmallows. Life is good!

And then my evening began…

5pm

S: Hubs, ummm I need you. I’ve got a bale cocked up in the wrapper and I can’t fix it.

5:15pm

S: The bale won’t push through!!

H: Did you push the lever?

S: Yes! (No, I didn’t, but I’m clearly not going to admit that so I push it.) Um, it’s magically working now! We’re good!

5:18pm

S: I think we’re out of gas…

6pm, the fun continues –

Do you know what rule #1 in wrapping hay is?

It’s don’t run out of wrap, but when you do – stop the wrapper and reload the wrap.

That’s not quite how it worked out…

I definitely ran out, didn’t realize/more preoccupied with trying not to wreck anything and I definitely put FIVE WHOLE FLIPPING BALES through with no wrap. #wifefail

Shoot me now, my husband almost did.

Do you know what this mistake does to grouchy Hub’s grouchiness? Amplifies it.

6:30pm

We’re done, Yayyyyyyy!

Nope. Not even close.

Spoiler alert: Hubs is going to wish we were!!

6:45pm

H: Ok, I’m going to need you to take the skid steer to the next farm to help them wrap hay.

S: Ummm, ok?! What about Munchkin?

So in we go, and by we I mean me and Munchkin. We’re making it. Life is good. We’ve even got the skid steer in “rabbit” mode!!! Cooking with grease, folks!

We pull out onto the road…

I push the throttle down.

Do you know what’s next to the throttle? The joy stick that controls the loader, which currently has a hay spear on it.

Did you know that when you push the throttle down, it’s super easy to move the joystick to the right? Do you know what happens when the joystick goes to the right?

No to all of that?

Here’s what happens: It tilts the hay spear down, like directly down, into the ground…or in this case, the road.

Yep, I managed to tilt the whole flipping spear directly down INTO THE ROAD while driving in rabbit mode (aka fast – or as fast as a skid steer goes) Hay spear = mangled mess. Not salvageable. #hesgonnakillme

Munchkin: Mommy?! What you do that for?!

Out of the mouths of babes, right?

S: I thought it’d be fun, kiddo…

So, I pull in at our driveway to assess damage. Life not good.

And to top it off… Hubs friends are in our driveway. Hubs ironically calls them at that exact moment. Perfect.

They’re giggling like school girls.

Me to them: Just let me tell him…

7pm

Hubs shows up…

S: I’m soooooo sorry! Why did you let me drive this crazy thing?!?! You realize this is actually your fault right? And Where do I buy a hay spear? Can I buy one now? (I know the answer is no, but I want to sound remorseful AND a little clueless.)

H: I just don’t see HOW you could’ve done this…

S: It’s actually QUITE easy! Want me to show you how? 😉 (Snickering)

H: (shakes his head…no words)

LUCKILY, because the friends saved us by letting us borrow their spear attachment, the evening activities continued uninterrupted….and I didn’t have to drive that gosh darn machine another inch!!!

Moral of story: don’t put a virgin skier on a black diamond slope. Lesson learned, Hubs? I hope!!!

PS: Someone’s getting a hay spear for Father’s Day!!!

Summer Strawberry Fridge Cake

So we’re not all blessed with siblings, and some who are…wish they weren’t. But when I married Hubs I gained the sister I’d always wanted and tomorrow is her birthday!!

We tend to be opposites in just about every way. I over-schedule but rarely plan anything in advance – and she doesn’t understand why I don’t know what I’m wearing to a party two weeks in advance. She’s organized. I am NOT. (I can’t walk in my closet about 95% of the time.)

But we get along on the important things and somehow both know how to put up with Hubs – who certainly knows how to give us a run for our money at times:)

So this cake started as Hubs’ birthday request, and this year it’s Sis’.

I once saw a recipe for a strawberry refrigerator cake and thought, this sounds different AND yummy!! But it was a sheet cake and I’ve just never felt like I get my icing fix with a one-layer cake:) So here’s what I came up with a few years ago!

And it’s so easy you even get to use a box cake mix!!

So get yourself a box of strawberry cake mix, throw it in the mixing bowl with eggs, oil (I like to sub a strawberry applesauce cup), and water. I usually split it into three 8in pans, but today I did just two pans and was going to make four layers out of the two – totally not worth it:(

Anyway…

Bake the cake like the box says, but our oven always bakes faster so keep an eye out!!

While it’s baking let’s talk icing…

In your mixing bowl whip 2 cups whipping cream with sugar, in another bowl mix instant pudding with a cup of milk, then combine the two – voila! Fridge icing.

Then onto the strawberries aka the star of the show –

Wash and slice these little strawberry gems!

Mix in some sugar – because it makes EVERYTHING better…

And now it’s time to construct…

Put down your first layer, and spread out icing over the layer, then add a spoonful of strawberries and evenly spread over the layer. Repeat until complete!!

So I was rushing, I tried adding an extra layer, and this is not the prettiest fridge cake I’ve ever done, but I can assure you there won’t be any left in a few hours;) And I’ve never thought food had to look perfect to taste perfect!

Enjoy

– Stilletos

Ingredients:

One box Strawberry cake mix, 3 eggs, 1 cup water, 1/3 cup oil or strawberry applesauce, 2 cups whipping cream, 1 box instant vanilla pudding, 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 lb strawberries

Directions:

In a mixing bowl combine cake mix, oil/applesauce, eggs, and water. Evenly distribute into three round 8″ cake pans and bake at 350 for 15-25 minutes or until done. Don’t over-cook!!

Wash the mixing bowl and add whipping cream and 1/4c sugar, then whip until thick peaks form. In a separate bowl mix the pudding and only 1c milk. Then whip that into the cream and set aside in the fridge for it to wait and set until icing.

Thinly slice the strawberries then mix in a 1/4c sugar.

After the cake has cooled, put it on a cake stand or in a travel container. Put down the first layer, ice it, add 1/3 strawberries. Repeat until complete, then keep it in the fridge until time to serve. You won’t be disappointed!!

Mom life of a former horse girl…

When both sides of your family are made up of horse people, it’s really hard to escape it. Luckily for my family, I never tried. Horses were just part of life.

(That’s my great grandmother, Nanny Myrtle, on my mom’s 16th birthday – Ginger was the first horse I sat on many years later.)

As I got older I started to appreciate the things I never had to beg for. I never had to fight for lessons, fight to get a horse, or another, or another. I never had to fight to go to an event. Hell, half the time my mom drove me to a track meet and we would meet Daddy with the truck and trailer at a horse thing later. My parents raised the bar on “supportive”.

Now, I don’t want you to think my ‘rents were rolling in extra cash – they weren’t. I didn’t come out the womb with a silver spoon, but that’s totally cool if you did. My parents just made our “horse life” a priority. It was something we did as a family. It taught me skills, kept me busy, and gave me an identity. We had nice horses, not fancy ones. And they usually came about in some strange way that ended with Daddy getting a good deal – problem horses with potential.

But eventually college happened.

And while I rode for Virginia Tech, the Daddy/Daughter late nights in the arena ended.

Then I went to work.

Then I moved away and got married.

Then I had a kid.

Even though I’ve continued to ride, judge some shows here and there, and root on the hubby at events – Mommin’ and horsin’ is tough.

But today was a good day. Sorta…

Munchkin and Momma went horse showin’!

And it didn’t come without its trials. Get ready…

First, I had to get ready by myself with a recently-turned three year old. Are you kidding me?!?! I’m trying to wash the horse while Munchkin’s taking a bath in a mud puddle. Thank God I packed extra clothes.

Back in the day I had a mommy AND a daddy getting me ready. Where the heck were they today?!?! Do they think their adult daughter has it together? She doesn’t. Pageant Moms – try being a Horse Show Mom. Got that covered? Try on Horse Show Mom that’s showing too…. Then we can talk. (PS my mom was once a pageant mom…she failed BIG TIME hahahahaha – but that’s for another time.)

So we’re ready. Horse is braided. We leave. We get to the grounds. I go to tack up….I left the freaking girth at home. Ya know, the thing that holds the saddle on… Kinda important. Had to load the horse BACK on the trailer and go back home to get it. I swear the horse looked at me and said, “You’ve gotta be kidding me…”

Get home. Grab girth. Drive back out the driveway with dust blowing in the wind and my mother-in-law trying to figure out what the heck is going on…

Return to show grounds. This time I didn’t have to pay money to enter, just pay with my pride as I sheepishly admit I’m a flipping idiot. Who goes to a horse show without their girth for Pete’s sake? (Side note: this may or may not be the only time this has happened to me…)

We unload. Journey’s braids have come out.

Good Lord in Heaven, are you trying to kill me?!?!?! I’m starting to regret this whole idea. I mean, here I am BY MYSELF trying to horse show. What an idiot.

I’m also thinking…At what point did my parents think it was acceptable to retire from show-parenting?!?!?! I mean COME ON. Who gave them permission? Can we revoke it?!

Anyway. I did have some help. Mommy-in-law showed up. My sis, with my precious niece on her FIRST BIRTHDAY! Hubs showed up too.

And Journ (the horse), oh how blessed I am to steal him from my father-in-law. And suddenly I’m no longer regretting my decision to be a Show Mom and a Horse Girl.

You see Journ is 21 now, but in his glory days he won a Reserve World in cutting. He has points in Hunter Under Saddle, can hop a fence, and is probably the most show-broke horse I’ve ever backed…and I’ve ridden some cool ones. Too cool for me to own, but crazy nice nonetheless. Journ still takes the cake. If you don’t win on him, it’s your own fault. (Aka, we didn’t win our first class and it was definitely my fault.) This horse is a machine. Even now.

He’s a little older, a little rounder, a little shaggier, but he’s out there showing you he’s still got it. And so do I. My horse girl is still in there, just buried a little deeper than I’d like.

Maybe we wouldn’t be successful at a big show now, and that’s ok. But when the judge comes up to you to tell you how fancy your guy is – you take the compliment and run. Somebody recognizes the old you.

Maybe it’ll be different when Munchkin is older. I hope so.

But for now, I’m good.

I’m good with going to a little show and coming home feeling like I must have just returned from World’s. I’m good seeing Munchkin refuse to be led in the leadline class – because he doesn’t need help. I’m good with ribbons. And fun. And having family there to watch.

One day, it’ll be different. And one day I’ll miss this chaos.

– Stilletos/Helmet Hair Don’t Care

PS, I backed the trailer into its tiny freaking home in my father-in-law’s barn on the FIRST TRY. I deserve a medal.

Momma’s Crab Cakes

In my family there were no birthday parties. On your birthday, you got to pick your birthday dinner and what kind of cake you wanted. We ate with family, usually at Aunt Jane’s house, opened presents and enjoyed good food and company.

In a world where parents drop hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars on birthday celebrations – I’m ok with sticking to family tradition on this one.

So, what’s my pick?

CRAB CAKES. Every freaking year.

It’s my favorite. And in honor of posting my first recipe on here, there was no other choice.

My mom makes great crab cakes. Over the years I’ve made some changes, but I’ll be sure to give you the original recipe too.

Back to the story-

My pseudo great grandmother, Bernice, lived next door to my family forever. She passed less than two years ago and was 102. It was Bern who first taught me to cook, just as she had my momma. Bernice’s dad, Brooks, was my own momma’s pseudo great grandfather – so I guess that’s a bit of a family tradition too.

Bern was an only child, and as wonderful as her daddy was…her momma was rumored to be mean as a snake. The story goes that Brooks once wanted an ice cream cone from my real great-grandparents store. He dropped the nickel it would’ve cost on the way there, and Bern’s mom wouldn’t give him another. Bless her penny-pinchin’ heart 😉

Bern was a child of the depression, with a mom who took “fiscal conservative” to a totally new level. There was no fresh seafood for Bern growing up, or at any other point in her life. The woman would eat salmon cakes (from a can) any day of the week, but ask her to eat a crab cake and she’d turn her nose up.

So, when we sat down to my Pa’s birthday dinner many moons ago – Bern was in for a surprise herself…seafood and a lot of it. When the crab cakes got passed, sure enough Bern turned her nose up. Momma put one on her plate anyway.

She ate a bite to be polite.

And then she polished off two more cakes. Bern was a believer in the power of a crab cake from then on!

How to:

Empty 1lb of crab into a bowl. Carefully separate the crab, and pick out any remaining shell. (I actually prefer claw meat, but I’ll use lump for special occasions!)

Add the Dukes, yogurt, egg, seasoning/herbs, and bread on top of the crab. Gently mix it together on top, then fold it GENTLY into the crab. Don’t mix, you’ll break up the fragile crab.

Mom’s original recipe calls for only Dukes, no yogurt – but the yogurt will save you some calories and it turns out great. Aka Hubby couldn’t tell the difference.

Mom also uses 1 Cup Italian bread crumbs from a can instead of actual bread – I like the stale bread better, but either works.

If your mixture is still too liquidy, add more bread.

Feel free to play around with the seasoning, but do not skip the Old Bay. That’d be like trying to sell a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without the jelly. No joke. Not the same. When my herbs come in better, I’ll be using those – for now I’m stuck with dry. Increase to a tablespoon with fresh herbs.

Use a spoon to heap out a handful, and form it into a cake placing it onto a cookie sheet. Continue until you’ve made all the cakes. One batch should make 8 medium cakes, but feel free to adjust size.

So, Momma has always fried them in a skillet with a vegetable oil/butter mix over medium heat… and they’re good, like really good.

But about a year ago I decided to try baking them. It’s a little healthier, and it was soooo much easier than standing over the frying pan. Both are great options, but for now I’m going with the baked version. So…put the cakes in a preheated oven at 425, for about 10-12 minutes or until they’re pretty and golden brown. They will change your life.

(I love them just as they are, but Hubby loves it with some creole sauce.)

Enjoy, y’all!!

– Stilletos

Ingredients

1lb Crab

1/2 Cup Dukes Mayo

1/2 Cup Plain Greek yogurt

1 egg (beat)

1 tsp each – Old Bay, dried chives, parsley, and onion

2 cups stale bread pieces (I used hotdog buns this time hah)

Directions:

Put crab meat in a mixing bowl, gently separating it apart. Add all other ingredients on top of crab. Mix the ingredients above the crab, then gently fold the combined ingredients into the crab. Once adequately combined, spoon a heaping amount into your hand and form a cake. Put cakes on a baking sheet. (I cheat and use some non stick foil.) Bake at 425 for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Welcome!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you for dropping in!

What should you expect? Hilarious stories from the farm (hopefully…otherwise I have failed miserably). Let’s face it, our life yields some unique situations, and you are the beneficiary of our struggles. Recipes. Lots of them. Did I mention I like to cook? No? I do. A lot. And an occasional tribute to trying to raise the next generation of farmers.

Growing up in a farming family, the only granddaughter of a man who only had daughters, it was impossible for sexism to exist in our family. You want to grow up believing women can do anything – my Pa knew how to make that happen:) #girlpower

All jokes aside, I just couldn’t ignore a few key factors when searching for a mate –

Farmer’s tans are hot. I like tractors. And cows.

Is it any wonder I married into another farming family? I think not.

Our wedding day got picked based on hay season and I had to relearn how to rake hay (evidently I didn’t do it right…), but I have managed to improve my husband’s palate beyond beef, potatoes, and bread!

Lets meet the cast;)

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Hubs: I often want to cause him bodily harm. He drives me nuts. But he loves me. He’s my partner. He puts up with my messiness, the fact that the kitchen EXPLODES every gosh darn time I cook, he lets me rake hay (and compliments me on my spectacular abilities on a tractor), and he asks my opinion on cows (a really big deal).

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Munchkin: Oh, how our world turned upside down the moment we found out he was on the way. As did my moonshine drink…

I worried he wouldn’t like the farm. That he’d be scared of cows. He’d hate horses.

Ummm. We’re good. A little too good. He came out the womb loving all things with four legs or wheels. He has no fear…and I’m unhappy to report very limited self-preservation. He’s attempted to drive his battery-powered four wheeler through the fence to check cows, will ride a horse until he literally falls asleep while moving, and is known to give his mother heart palpitations. But man do I love being his momma.

The girls. Aka Molly and Sadie. Molly, Hub’s #1 girl (I’m #2 and ok with it), our border collie, security head, baby wrangler, and the reason our vets know us WAY too well. Sades – the sweetheart, car-riding, terrified-of-cows-despite-being-a-herding-dog, angel of a girl.

And me? I’m just a girl who loves food a little too much, likes working cattle, but loves my pedicures. Will rake hay, shower, curl my hair, throw on a dress, and cook for all our friends. I love boots and tractors, heels and a great black dress.

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I cant wait to share our little life with y’all! Happy reading:)