Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Well, this is about lime. But it's got nothing to do with the Food Network or cherry limeades.
It's all about agricultural lime. Several weeks ago, Randy gathered soil samples from different fields and took them to the co-op so they could be sent to a lab for testing.
Some tests for the pH of the soil came back low. An ideal soil pH is around 7. We had some tests that came in at 4.8.
The pH is a logarithmic scale: The lower the pH, the more acid in the soil. The higher the pH, the more alkaline the soil.
Monday, January 26, 2015
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an old-fashioned windmill at a farmstead and clicked the shutter quickly, hoping to capture the old windmill juxtapositioned against its newfangled "cousins." We were going 60 miles a hour down Highway 50, so I didn't have a lot of confidence that the photo from a dreary day would be worth saving. I literally had time for one click of the shutter as we rumbled by. But, later, when I looked at it on the computer, I was glad to have this contrast of old and new.
This weekend, I celebrated my fifth "blogiversary." I first published Kim's County Line on January 24, 2010. During those five years of writing, I've published 1,268 posts. Earlier this month, the page views on Kim's County Line topped 1 million. (Some of those people likely Googled something and my blog happened to show up on their feed.) But, still, 1 million views was a milestone for this homespun little blog.
When I started, I didn't have a plan. At the time, my sister, my daughter and my niece were blogging. (They have since quit blogging. Maybe someday, they'll try it again.)
I've always been a writer. I remember "writing" my first story at a women's church meeting in the basement of the Byers United Methodist Church. My mom handed me a little notebook and I scratched out a few words and pictures on the lined sheets of paper.
Back when this area was settled, many a pioneer farmer or farm wife wrote in a journal or diary. There was no backspace button to delete a whole line of type. There was only pen on paper.
These days, I usually say that my blog is a mix of farm, family, faith, food and photography. I am certainly no Pioneer Woman in terms of blog followers or page hits. It can be frustrating if I play the comparison game. Comparison is never healthy, though it's human (at least this version of human struggles mightily with it). Some days, I do question the time and effort I put into it. But, then I consider: What is gained?
I think writing has made me more aware. For some of the posts about farming, I've approached the task like the reporter I am. I've "interviewed" my farmer and written down his answers. I've asked the questions and listened carefully, instead of halfheartedly, so I could answer the "whys" and "wherefores" of a modern farming operation.
|I used this photo of a sunrise after a 2007 ice storm as my first blog header photo.|
I look at Kim's County Line a little like a modern-day journal or diary. Maybe, someday, I'll have a great-grandchild or even a stranger know a little about life in the early 21st century on a Kansas farm. But instead of finding it written in cursive on a paper page, it will be documented in the photos and words captured in one little piece of the internet.
Perhaps writing about our life on a Kansas farm helps us see into the rearview mirror but also keeps us looking ahead to the next day or week or year. There is value in both, I think.
Friday, January 23, 2015
There was a baby boom on the County Line yesterday: Introducing the first four members of the Class of 2015!
calving pen to help keep her and us safe while we pull the calf.
After this little guy was tagged, Randy had a new friend. We were actually trying to figure out which heifer was his mother (and it appears he was ready to help, doesn't it)?
Only 114 more to go! (OK, that sounds like a lot when I look at it that way.)
In 2012, I wrote "The Miracle of Birth," which showed photos of the guys pulling a baby calf. Click here to read that post and see the photos. However, it would be great if we didn't have to pull any calves this winter. Time will tell.
Thursday, January 22, 2015
For the first time in 20 years, I'm not playing the piano for the spring semester at school. They are in much more competent hands, those of a true pianist, my good friend, Linda, who has also been accompanying for the past several years.
I've always been more of a vocalist than pianist. If my piano teacher, Mrs. Lighter, were still alive, you could ask her. I was the least talented of the Moore sisters who sat at the piano bench in front of her baby grand piano each week.
|(From our 1965 Christmas card, from left to right: Darci, me and Lisa)|
It feels a little discordant to not have that daily appointment at the piano bench, but a shifting schedule at school made it the right decision for me. I may still help marginally with solos for festivals, but Linda will be the accompanist. And that's OK.
But just because I'm not in the classroom every Monday through Friday this semester, it doesn't mean I still don't find overwhelming value in music education in the public schools.
Yesterday, I saw a link via Facebook about a new study from the University of Vermont's College of Medicine about the value of music. I emailed both Jill and Brent (and didn't hear back from either one, by the way.)
Brent has said more than once: "Giving me piano lessons was like throwing money down the drain." I've always vehemently disagreed, though I realize he will never accompany a classroom of vocal music students or even sit at a piano and play it for fun.
1997 piano recital - Jill and Brent with Mrs. Dorothy Trinkle, their piano teacher.
Every week, I'd drive them to Dorothy Trinkle's rural Preston home for piano lessons. She deserves a medal, by the way, for teaching piano so many years to so many children, including my reluctant pair. Their music-loving mama also forced them to take private vocal music lessons for several years and to play instruments in the school band.
Was it child abuse? I think not. And the University of Vermont study is backing me up:
James Hudziak and his colleagues analyzed the brain scans of 232 children ages 6 to 18, looking for relationships between cortical thickness and musical training. Previous studies the team had performed revealed that anxiety, depression, attention problems and aggression correspond with changes to cortical thickness. Hudziak and his team sought to discover whether a "positive activity" like musical training could affect the opposite changes in young minds.
"What we found was the more a child trained on an instrument," Hudziak told The Washington Post, “it accelerated cortical organization in attention skill, anxiety management and emotional control."
The study found increased thickness in parts of the brain responsible for executive functioning, which includes working memory, attentional control and organizational skills. In short, music actually helped kids become more well-rounded.
My two turned out OK. They seem to have several of those attributes. Maybe it wasn't child abuse after all.
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
This morning, the stark branches were black against a multi-colored sky, like an Artist's palette where the paints are dabbled together.
"Some people, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book, the very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Note it. Read it. God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink. Instead God set before your eyes the things that God had made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that?"
Augustine of Hippo, 5th century
The beauty was different, though the old tree was the same. It's all a matter of perspective. It's a lesson to take into my day today. I think Augustine had it right: God didn't write the book with ink. The world is His canvas, if only I open my heart and eyes.
"Everything is a parable that God is speaking to us, the art of life is to get the message."
Chester Elijah Branch, 21st century
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Grandma and Grandpa Fritzemeier were in Kansas City for Grandpa's Kanza Co-op board retreat last week. Grandpa had Friday afternoon off. Really! He didn't skip any meetings to go on our zoo adventure.
Brooke and I had never visited the Kansas City Zoo. Mommy and the grandparents had been there when she and Uncle Brent were little. They said it had changed a lot. Both Brooke and I dressed for the day in our owl outfits. Sadly, we didn't see any owls though.
first Topeka zoo visit in September. But, even though she's grown a bunch, she still can't talk. But I can. And I do.
|September 2014 - Kinley, 2 3/4 years and Brooke, 2 weeks old|
Actually, I liked riding the baby hippo at the zoo's playground even better. It didn't move.
Grandpa rode the big one. Grandma says he'll do pretty much anything for his girls.
Friday, January 16, 2015
I also have these sheet cake versions: strawberry, coconut, pumpkin, peanut butter and white.
But there was nary a banana sheet cake recipe to be found in my extensive arsenal of tried-and-true church and community cookbooks. I called my Mom. She didn't have one either.
So, with a hefty pile of ripe bananas on my counter and a need to make a sheet cake for a funeral dinner, I turned to Google. After looking at several options, I chose one that had sour cream, which always makes a moist, flavorful cake.
The resulting cake got good reviews from kitchen workers at the church and from my husband. The banana icing recipe (which I did have in my recipe files) got even more thumbs up. It includes mashed-up, ripe bananas for even more banana flavor.
Next time, I'll have this tried-and-true recipe ready to go. Now you can, too!
Banana Sheet Cake2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. banana extract (opt.)
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup milk
1 8-oz. container sour cream
3-4 ripe mashed bananas (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup mashed ripe bananas
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. banana or coconut extract
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp. milk or cream (or more to make frosting of the proper consistency)
Cream together sugar and butter until well incorporated. Add vanilla and eggs, beating well after each addition of an egg. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Combine milk, sour cream and mashed bananas in another bowl. Beginning and ending with the wet ingredients, add about 1/3 of the milk mixture to the creamed mixture, then 1/3 of the dry ingredients, combining well after each addition. Continue until all the wet and dry ingredients are incorporated, ending with the wet.
Spray sheet pan with nonstick baking spray. Pour batter into pan. Bake in 350-degree, preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. It is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cake completely and then frost with Banana Frosting.
Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl. Add additional milk or cream if needed for proper spreading consistency. (Or, if too wet, add a little additional powdered sugar.)
Note: I didn't have banana extract, which was called for in the recipe. Instead, I substituted coconut extract. But you could just use vanilla.