Thursday, November 21, 2013

Leftovers and Sell by Date Creations

I often try to use up the random things that are leftover in my fridge. This AM when I opened it up there were lots of new/ unopened containers. Cream, Ricotta cheese, eggs, and spinach top the list. There was also some stale gluten free bread and a stick of butter that I am sure had been hidden since before school let out for the summer.  I could now see them because I used most of the leftovers earlier this week in a soup and breakfast bake. So, I started checking dates... Nov. 28, Nov. 12, Dec. 6, and Nov. 18. Hmmm. I knew with Thanksgiving coming and that these needed to be used very soon or they really would not be useable. I opened the packages up, sniffed, tasted, and decided that they were "just fine". 

I decided to make lasagna, manicotti, and baked french toast. 

I found myself in trouble came after I got the lasagna made. I had a lot of filling for the manicotti left, but no meat to put in it. So back to the fridge I went. Wallah! I found the last bit of Sunday's beef roast. That was what I had and what I was going to use. Into the food processor it went and then into the pasta tubes! Worked like a charm and full of protein!
After covering it with the end of 2012's homemade spaghetti sauce  and a bit of cheese, it was complete! 

My freezer is now filled with several pans of tasty meals, breakfast is made for tomorrow, and my fridge is now almost empty! 
I guess it is time to start filling it back up. Well, maybe after Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Story of and from Veterans

Today was a whirl or a day, but as I pit stopped at CVS drug store I stood in line behind two elderly gentlemen with a great sense of humor and frustration. I loved that they cracked jokes with the cashier about the year they were born and that they had seen a "friend" after a long while who was older than they were and still wrecking havoc! 

But, I was deeply saddened by the conversation that fell among the jokes. It started with "what kind if run around are you getting with your insurance?" And "Damn Vietnam! The docs say nothing is wrong, but the pain in my legs won't go away." And "I talk with my neighbor (a high level state official) about the crap they put us vets through, but nothing changes." They comained a bit more, cracked a few more jokes , but always came back to "blame it on Vietnam".  

I stood there and pretended not to listen. More and more people congregated around the "prescription pick up" counter. It was a busy Monday! Then one of the two guys said (recalled to the best of my ability), " You know, I go to all of the welcome home events here in town for our men and women. I am pleased that they are  home. People gather, cheer, cry, and treat them like celebrities, like heroes. Those in Desert Storm and Afghanistan are treated like they are royalty." They talked about the thrones that our men and women are placed on, acknowledged that they may even deserve it, were worthy of the parties of sorts that are thrown, had put their lives at risk to defend our country and that these men and women have something in them that many young people don't even desire or strive to have. (Ok, I can process and come to terms with their thoughts, but then their conversation when even deeper and I am nt sure I have even begun to process it.)

It was the next part if the conversation that brought tears to my eyes, made my knees weak and inspired me to say a little prayer. One of the men said (and I share as accurately as possible),"These people need to be honored, but they have no idea what it felt like to fight in a war that no one wanted to be in. I went to Vietnam three times and every time I came home I was greeted by a crowd. No one clapped. No one cheered. These men and women are so lucky, yet have no idea what it feels like to be greeted by people throwing things at you and telling you how awful you are. They just have no idea and I am not even sure they care." 

I believe my heart stopped. I know I took a huge breath and let out a sigh. I looked to the ground and swallowed hard. I wondered if those returning home over the last 10-15 years really did or didn't care. If they did or didn't deserve to be cheered for. If they were fighting a "wanted" war or if they too were fighting a war "no one wanted". I asked myself if these men were bitter and if so did they deserve to be? Did they deserve to have the same respect as all other vets?More ? Less? 
I had many thoughts,probably 100's more than I just listed, swirling in my head and then I looked up. The man that had done most of the talking had a tear in his eye. He looked right at his friend and said( and I remember and can hear it clearly), "Damn Vietnam! We did what we had to do, can't talk about or we cry and now suffer because if it. If only people knew how awful it was they wouldn't think we were so awful. We really are good people."

Then, as if the entire conversation had never happened, the clerk said thanks, wished him a good afternoon and he and his friend parted ways.

In all honesty, I thought about how to interrupt and tell them I care and that I respect them. To tell them not to give up hope for the "young men and women". I tossed around ideas of how to let them know that their stories shared while standing in line were important and need to be shared more often and that all of us in the "prescription pick up" area were leaving the store better than when we came in because of them. But, I didn't want to stop listening. I wanted to see where their story went. They had captivated my attention, drawn me in, and I didn't want them to stop. So, I stood silent, a tear in my eye, and listened, promising to share their story with others. 
So, to the two Vietnam vets at CVS this afternoon, this blog post is for you. Thank you for doing what most won't, experiencing what most can't begin to understand and for supporting those today who continue to defend our great nation! I wish you the best in the years ahead! Cheers to you and the stories I hope you continue to share!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

We The People: a Rx for Better Health

As a mom I am concerned with the well being of my kids. I want them to eat healthy food. I want them to get over illnesses fast AND I like the idea that I can buy products that kill germs before they can get me and my family. But what does that really mean?
It means I buy food at a decent price and prepare fairly balanced meals. It means I take my kids to the doctor when their boogers are green, throat is sore, and they have a juicy cough. It means I purchase antibacterial wipes, soaps, school supplies and anti- microbial clothing. But is all this making them less healthy? 
Well, the truth is that WE THE PEOPLE may just be making ourselves less able to deal with illness. You may ask, how is this possible? Isn't all that previously mentioned stuff supposed to help us? Well, in theory- yes, but think about where they are coming from-- business/ companies that are looking to fit a "need" or give us a feeling that their product is needed. But by overusing, not understanding what we are using, and minimizing our exposure to germs we may be putting ourselves at risk. 

For example... How many times have WE THE PEOPLE run to the doctor because we or our kids weren't feeling well. Perhaps even showing signs such as a low grade fever, a juicy cough, maybe even green boogers? What about that infection from a hangnail? Well, the honest answer is that we go to the doctor more often today than in any previous decade... Why? Because we want to get better more quickly and keep on moving on. Now don't get me wrong, there are times when prescriptions such as antivirals and antibiotics are needed. But, have you ever noticed how quickly they are dispersed? And then I ask, how many doses are left in the bottle? 

I also use the example of of overuse. Take a close look at your soap, deodorant, cleaning wipes, hand sanitizer, pencils, scissors, sponges, mouth wash and yes, your clothes- socks and undies too! Most of these are "treated" with an antimicrobial or nano silver products that works to kill, minimize or prevent bacteria from entering our bodies. Neat concept, but with tragic side effects. What these products do include, but are not limited to 1) kill the weak germs, preventing us from building immunity and making us more suseptible to the stronger ones, 2) enter our bodies through absorption and initiate and aid in the building of resistency to a variety of antimicrobial/ antibiotics, and 3) get washed out of the product in the laundry and run the risk of entering the water supply- not everyone or everything has the privilege of ingesting, using, purchasing treated water. 

So, how do WE THE PEOPLE combat the need to feel better faster, the marketplace flooded with products, and our own choices within our families and homes? Well, what I did was start reading. I started finding out what exactly was in the products I purchased. I came to understand more about the food I was purchasing and how it is ALL safe. That I can actually help my family and my budget by serving well stored and prepared food and that the "sell-by" dates really are guidelines. (My nose and eyes are the best judges.) 

I have also begun waiting until it was needed to go to the doctor and not just after the first day of illness or because a weekend was coming. I make sure that if I, or a family member, am prescribed an antibiotic that I finish it and that I vary the ones I am given. 

I have stopped buying as many products as I could that were labeled "antibacterial", "microban", "antimicrobial", and that included nanosilver. Have I eliminated all of these products from my house- no, but I have cut down. 

So tonight, as I wait for the last load of laundry for the day to get done, I simply share a glimpse of insight into a prescription for better health. WE THE PEOPLE have the power to make a difference in our homes and with our families. We can write our own Rx list. What will be on yours? 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Are Form Letters Really a Legit Response

Over the last nine months, I have chosen to contact my senators and congressman on a variety of topics. I have emailed, called, Tweeted, Facebooked, and used their online form. I can say that I did meet with each office in person and have spoken to a real person at all of them on several occations. 
 But what about the other times? I have received numerous email responses and form letters thanking me for expressing my concerns. I have received emails that state they have counted my contact and that they appreciate my contacting the office. But, only once did any of the three offices actually take interest in the concerns I expressed. ( Thank You Congressman Cramer!) 

So I ask, "Does a canned and/ or automated email really count as a response?" I ask after seeing a Facebook post and story about how one of my senators has responded to over 50,000 emails, calls etc. 

Yes, a tally of contact can help a representative note importance on a topic to his/ her constituents. Yes, sometimes that is all we want. And then I wonder what happened to their comments directly to me ( when I met with them in person) about wanting real stories from the state about how this or that is perceived, impacts, affects North Dakotans. They plea for us to share stories so they can share them on the house/ senate floor, with others when meeting, when looking for support for positions on bills, and to help explain their position. But, when stories are shared are they ever read, used etc. or are just the calls, emails, texts that fit their position cared about?

I guess what I am saying is that just because they ask doesn't mean they really want to know. They like to count contact and use it as publicity. Who wouldn't want to look good to those who aren't as active in the game. Headlines sell... Headlines are what most read. So, it is up to us to make our headline bolder and stronger, more eye catching in order for a staffer to want to hear, read, listen to what we have to say.
Don't settle for a form letter. Don't settle for a, " I will write it down". If you want to share more, be persistent, but be respectful. As much as we want to be the most important person trying to contact them, we aren't. We must be willing to invest time and energy. Persistence pays! 

P.S. Gotta love when the email responses ( below is a section from one ) come and direct you support the program you  directly opposed and doesn't acknowledge what was discussed in you message. Plus, it comes from a "DO NOT REPLY" email account! Love it!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Quiet Evening BUT....

I have always heard that being a parent has its ups and down. Today was one of those days. Kids not getting along, no one willing to pitch and pick things up and attitude like I haven't seen for a long time. I really think that my kids are over tired and in need of some down time. BUT, a few things really needed to get done and the kids needed to help... AND the they all got home from school early today... PERFECT, or maybe not so perfect timing! 

Tonight is also a HUGE game for our small town volleyball team- a chance to take 1st in the district, a huge honor!  I had hoped to take the kids and go, but given our struggles in the afternoon, I knew they would not be in any shape to attend and cheer at the game that it probably wouldn't start until 8pm. 

So, I instituted quiet time after out few chores were complete. To my surprise no one whined, complained, or threw a fit. In the midst of an hour they all found something to if and 2 kids ended up falling asleep. They found activities that were not loud and did not require a TV or other electronic device!  

So if parenting has it's ups and downs I am happy to say we ended up and only know the good times because of the tougher ones. 

We are missing what I am sure will be a great time at volleyball, but we gained some ground on a house much out of control, spent time together, and got ready for a fun deer hunting opener weekend! 
I don't think we could have ended the day better!

Breakfast Treats: Carmel Apple Monkey Bread

It's no secret that I love tasty food! I enjoy making it, sharing it, and consuming it!  I am also one that never follows a recipe and hates to see food go to waste. So, this morning I took some leftovers, some partial servings, and a few fresh items out and made ... Carmel Apple Monkey Bread! 

I took a 9x13 nonstick pan with 2"sides, coated it with non- stick spray. Then I took my container (about 1.5 cups) of left over baked apples and layed them loosely in the bottom of the pan. The next step is to take a ziplock bag and place approximately 1.5 cups of white sugar and a reasonable amount if ground cinnamon in it. ( side note : cinnamon is a great seasoning for brain power) I shake the sugar and cinnamon a bit so they mix together. Then I take 2 containers of jumbo refrigerator biscuits or cinnamon rolls or a combination depending on what I may have. (You can use bread dough too.) Cut them into bite size pieces and drop into sugar mix. Coat with sugar mix and drop into pan on top of apples. Making a single to double layer fairly evenly spread.  

Then the extra tasty part.... In a microwave safe dish I melt 1 stick BUTTER. I mix in about 1 cup brown sugar. Then it needs some form if heavy dairy product. Today I melted the last (about 1/2 cup) of vanilla ice cream and added the last of my heavy cream, about 1/2 cup to the butter and brown sugar mixture. These ingredients need to be mixed well- 2 minutes. Finally, I poured the caramel sauce over the bread dough. I try to get it all covered evenly. Yes, it will seep to the bottom. 
I placed it in a 325 degree preheated oven and cooked it for 1 hour. Took it out and flipped it over on a cookie sheet!  

Yum! The kids enjoy it! The guys at the farm shop like it too! It takes a bit of time, but a tasty treat every once in awhile never hurts! 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

We the People: Thankful and Time to Share

As the month of November beings, I am always thrown into the mode of remembering things and taking time to acknowledge things and people that I am thankful for. So tonight, I start a series of posts called, " We the People".

On this November 3rd, 2013, I am ultimately thankful for the words, " We the People". At a time when the country is struggling, I hear chatter about individuals not being able to make a difference, and personal struggle  with many events,  I am drawn to these words. WE THE PEOPLE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. We have been given a voice, a brain, and a right to ask, investigate and speak out. WE THE PEOPLE deserve answers and acknowledgement. WE THE PEOPLE need to know that this is still our country, our home. WE THE PEOPLE can make a difference. BUT, WE THE PEOPLE need to step up and be heard. 

So many times we are upset about things and just sit and complain in our own homes, to our neighbors, and our spouses. We choose not to speak out, be heard and share our experiences, our stories with a larger audience. We may be afraid that our voice will offend others. (They may just be offended because they wish they could have said it, feel guilty, or simply have a different perspective. Don't be afraid. If they can realize that you are standing up for and not directly against them, all will be okay.) We may also feel defeated before we have even begun or that no one cares. Additionally, we may even feel that we don't know enough to speak out. But, we DO know enough. WE know our story. WE know how a decision, change or event impacts us and this is what people need to hear. 

WE THE PEOPLE cannot settle, we cannot let others make our decsions, we cannot swallow our voices. We have to find our voice, speak loudly and share our story. No one can change the emotions, facts and impact that our own stories tell. So I ask that WE THE PEOPLE not be so afraid, look at our own stories and speak up and out! Share with a neighbor, your community, your community school, the media, and your elected officials! WE THE PEOPLE have a lot to share. 
Who doesn't like a good story, and we have a lot to share! 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Reading Around the Kids Always Helps

Tonight as I sat with my 3 year old and she "read" me a series of books, I realized how vital seeing people read is. Having 5 kids there are tons of books and magazines in our house. I enjoy reading and often do so, but I had to stop and think when my kids have seen me read (besides on my iPad or iPhone). I am sure it had been awhile!
Then I got to thinking about the literacy exposure that my oldest two children received. Yes, I read books with them here and there. They had their favorites which were read over and over. Some nights we read 3 or 4 books and others none. I thought I was doing pretty good. Sadly, I can honestly say that I am not sure they saw me read much of anything.(Ok, the mail and the cake mix or frozen dinner directions.)
I now sit here feeling guilt for their lack of exposure. Especially when I see my youngest three children spend many hours a week reading and telling stories from pictures. They ask their siblings what their books are about and are very excited to "write" their own stories. I know without a doubt that their interest in language/ reading/ telling/ writing is drastically impacted by what they observe happening around them, most notably by their older siblings. 
So what can I do about it? Instead of hiding my stack of "I want to read" books and dozens of magazines in my office, I am going to put them on display. I can also make sure that during "quiet time" that I take a a few minutes to read with them or next to them. Finally, I can take interest in what they are reading (even if I can't stand the genre). 
The love of literacy can be built at any age and with my family we start to build/ enhance that love tomorrow! 
Happy Reading! 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Married to the Farm

When I met my husband about 15 years ago, I had no idea the ride I was about to encounter. I did not know the time farming required, the training and learning that were needed, the amount of planning and investment it took to run a business, let alone a farm as a business. We are a business, but we are family farm too. Each year, I learn more about our farm and agriculture as a whole, I appreciate more, and I realize over and over that my husband is the rock in our family. He keeps me grounded, keeps us all going and makes sure that we are working as a team. He is my prince and treats me like his princess.... I wrote this in a Facebook post the other day, but wanted to share it in another way too! Love ya Steven! Thanks for all you do!

Married to the farmer, Married to the land,
Living a life many don't understand.
These hands hold out future, from here until the end,
with The Lord's Blessing, Mother Nature will be our friend.
From endless work that is done day to day,
to sleepless night and lack of play.
My Farmer is the strength of our home,
making sure we are a team and never stand alone.
This life has its ups and downs,
but to the Farmer,
thank you for your smile, making me your princess without a crown!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

My Kid is Not a Number

I preface this post by saying that when you are done reading, I want you to ask yourself,what kinds of interactions you have had with a school? How did they make you feel and what did you walk away knowing? Can you draw a vivid picture of your child while they are at school or do you simply know how they rank among other kids in the nation or their class. As a parent, I feel that we need to be involved and let schools know that although the national education system forces teachers to chase and figure out new expectations and requirements and pushes for our kids to be identified by numbers, that we want then described in adjectives and verbs.... And now to my post!

Have you ever walked away from a parent teacher conference, a school meeting, an appointment and felt like your child was simply a number? Well, I have decided that it has to change for my family.

When I sit down at a parent teacher conference and get "Your child scored_____ on the state assessment, NWEA MAP test, DIBELS test, I vow to say," And what does that show? or "And how does this score tell me about who my child is and what happens behind these doors from 8:25-3:15?"
When they show me their grades, I don't really care. Tell me, "What you know about my child. Describe my child, his/her attitude, energy, interactions etc." 

When I get slammed in the face with " I need to get _____ Accellerated Reader points as my kids walk in the house." I vow to say, " Read, and if you meet the goal set for your grade level- wonderful, but what is your goal? What do you want to read? "

When I sit in an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting and hear this score and that score on an assessment I vow to say, " What does that mean or how does that impact PE, Music, lunch, recess, multi-step problems, group work, comprehension, etc." Or a goal written as" He will display proper stress management skills on 8 of 10 occurances as tallied by _____ on 4 out of 5 days" I will call, " Bull Sh**". No one knows exactly when my children are stressed or anxious. No one is actually tallying the number of occurances. I really don't care what the number is, I will say, "How will that look, what is the plan to get to reduced stress and anxiety."

When I am told that so and so was not aware of this need or that, or that they don't rememebr that being discussed at a meeting, I will call out, " My kid is not a number! S/he is entrusted to you for 7 hours a day. It is your responsibility!"

When I want to know how much lunch money is left in the lunch account, what my students grades are, how many days they have been tardy or absent or to send an email to their teacher, I have to pull up one more number to log into a system.  I will send notes and expect responses.

When I call the school and get sent to so and so's voicemail extension, I understand, they have minutes to teach and have to count all of them. They can't be interrupted ( I really do understand not interrupting) but how many minutes, hours days do I and my child need to wait to get an answer? Teaching comes first.. oh, wait, or is it testing or teaching to a test?

In a world where a number or a collection of numbers define who our kids are and what they can and cannot do, I ask, is there really any meaning, are we teaching, learning, or just trying to jump through a hoop. I am tired of impersonal education. What happened to a note, a call.... I'd even take an email or a text. 

We teach English, perhaps we should go back and be descriptive, paint a picture with words as to who each child is, make it vivid, colorful, meaningful and exciting. Start with an opening statement and elaborate. Then wrap it up with a conclusion summarizing what was discussed/ shared using just as explicit vocabulary as in the conversation. Then, maybe just then, parents will start the journey back to the school. Maybe then they will want to be active, attend meetings, conferences, events. May then, school will become a welcome friendly place to be for kids as well as families.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Why Be An Agvocate ( advocate for agriculture)

Standing up and speaking out is not something I have always done. To this day it is not something I always feel comfortable or like to do, but I do it anyway. Growing up in Minneapolis I really knew nothing about how the food in my kitchen and on my table came to be. I knew certain things were grown, but had no idea of the amount of work, time frame, costs, and risks involved. When I met my husband, I quickly got a glimpse of what I had been missing. He grew up on a grain farm. He had also helped raise hogs and ostrich. He knew that farming was not just something to do, but that it required dedication, hard work, risk, planning, budgeting, a wide variety of skills, and the need for knowledge and experience.
As we dated, got married and now run a third generation farm, I feel a need to share what my family does. I feel that a large number of people have a lack of understanding of what happens and why. I feel like conversing whether it be in text, pictures or in a "real" conversation about a variety of topics in agriculture is meaningful and re-connects people to one of our favorite things... FOOD!

I have played the cheerleader and skeptic of social media. I initially dove in with both feet, then retreated for awhile, and then started to use a variety of outlets again. Currently, I use my personal Facebook page, our Heger Farms Facebook page, Twitter, this blog, and Heger Farms website ( which is need of updating. My husband was not always a fan either. Advocating takes time. When you take time for something, you take it away from something else. He wasn't sure advocating through social media was a needed step. We both questioned why a good old fashioned conversation was no longer "good enough". But with time and looking at some of the numbers, we decided that using social media was important to reach more people and let others see what our family and farm were about. Interestingly enough, I just received an order of office supplies and stationary. All of which have a note for people to check out our Facebook page. My husband even commented this morning, "Make sure you tell them to check out our Facebook page.", when I was writing a few letters. I do believe we have made great strides down an ever evolving road.

I have been asked when I find the time to keep each advocacy platform up-to-date. Well, I simply do what I can. I do a lot of reading on topics in the evenings. I will say that my phone and iPad are very important tools that let me "work" from all sorts of places. I sneak posts in while waiting for kids to come out from sport practices, when waiting in the field for a rider, when waiting for supper to get done or when inline. Most of the time, I post things when I have a second here or there . In general, it is when I am waiting! But because not all advocating takes place in social media, I find time to visit classrooms, talk with other kids' parents, friends and numerous others at sporting events, conferences, the park, the grocery store and simply by wearing t-shirts that share an agricultural message.
(bottom T-shirt available from

I have found that when I use social media to share and talk with people that I am often redirected to listen. Others share and post comments or their own pictures and information. With social media they are able to share articles and links. People ask questions and a wide variety of people can respond. I find that being an advocate is not about only sharing, but digesting what others are thinking and saying. I do not know nearly as much as others. I rely on my connections to enlighten me and bless me with perspective. I can then gain understanding and share even more.

Advocating needs to come from the heart. It is communication about something you are passionate about. It takes time, energy, and dedication, but it is worth it. Agvocating for me is not just one more thing to do. It is what I do each day.

Monday, September 9, 2013

18 Years of Concession Stands

It was this past Saturday as I was trying to figure out how to attend my daughter's elementary basketball game and get to my son's football game that I realized I have about 18 years of concession stand food ahead of me. 
Don't get me wrong, I love popcorn, hotdogs ,and  chocolate, but thinking of feasting on this several times a week for 18 years was a bit too much! 

Then I reminded myself that there are 11 yrs between my oldest and youngest. This means that the decisions as to how to attend all of my own kids' games is just the beginning. I may have to try and figure out how to attend high school games of my youngest, and grand kids (maybe even college events for some of my other kids) as the 18 years winds down.  Oh my!!!! 
I better start thinking of a good exercise program to burn off all those tasty favorites of mine! Perhaps I will become the cheerleader parent... Standing and sitting, standing and sitting all while screaming words of encouragement... That has to burn some calories, right? 
Perhaps I should keep track of how much is spent too? Thinking it will add up to one heck of a nice world wide cruise! ;-) 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Smell of Clean Doesn't Happen Often

I will start out that I often tidy up the house, but rarely spend time deep cleaning. Yesterday was one day that I actually spent time CLEANING! What provoked this....well, hosting a meeting at my house last night may have been the kick in the pants I needed!

Two of my five kids were gone, and I hired a sitter for the others. She is great! She took them to the pool and then hung with them for a while watching movies and playing. I on the other hand got busy, pulling out the bucket of Clorox Wipes, Vinegar, rags, and a few other things. I started in one room, then jumped to another, then jumped to another, then realized I never finished in the first room and returned. I then tried to finish what I had left undone, but thought about this or that and continued cleaning in a disorderly fashion. After about 4 hours, I had the main level looking presentable and in a condition that those coming to my house would not need to get a tetenus booster.The best part was the smell. I do believe that besides fresh baked cookies and bread that a clean house is one of my favorite smells!

I then had to think about how to keep it clean...I had two hours until the meeting. I whisked the kids out to supper, drove around looking at fields of crops and then came home just in time to set out dessert and change clothes for my meeting... operation clean house... A success! 

After the meeting, I got to thinking  how I was going to keep the house clean for a long period of time and hide the "clean" smell. My family doesnt seem to notice clean, but they do smells. If they notice how the house looks as a result of smelling a clean house, they might think that it needs to be clean vs. tidy more often.  (Hmmmm. Maybe someone would " pass gas" or my 1 year old would get a dirty diaper.)

and then there was 12 hours later.... and reality hit....not tidy, not too clean. 

But it is a house that is a home to 5 kids and a happy family! I wouldn't change it for the world!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Sometimes You Just Have to Share: Don't be Afraid to Speak Up

About 2 months ago a friend of mine shared a gluten free food delivery company with me, Taste Guru. I looked through the website and thought for the promo offer price that I would sign up for their monthly "sample" box. It looked like a good deal. Each month you got a box for a minimal fee filled with a variety of foods that are gluten free. ( I should take a moment to say that 4 out of the 7 of us in my house/family are gluten sensitive and I am always looking for tasty products.) I got my first box and was excited. Stuff that actually tasted good and was usable!

Well, then I got a "special offer" email and went back to their website. I did a bit more looking and noticed that one of the things they offered was menu/ recipe ideas. Then I saw it.... "Meatless Monday: Black Bean and Yam Enchiladas". I was done. I immediately closed my account. Now, you may say OVER REACTING. I see where you are coming from, BUT MEATLESS MONDAY is not something I support. I have no problem with meals with do not contain meat. Even I, a HUGE meat lover and firm believer in the need for a variety of meat in our diet, serves a meal now and then without meat in it. I have a problem with the initiave and the groups that promote Meatless Monday.

The vast majority of special interest groups behind not eating meat, do not have any health reasons behind the "movement". Many of them believe that all animals should not be used for food. That they should be raised to the same standards as people. One must realize that livestock are not petsnor are they people. They are born and breed for the purpose of providing food. They are treated very well. They are cared for and often provided with better medical care than we, farmers and ranchers, provide ourselves. Animal products are healthy for most to consume. Yes, some have medical reasons and are not able to. Animal products are also important to medicine, recreation, personal products, clothing, school supplies etc. Livestock, animal agriculture, is a VITAL part of the American economy, our food supply, and our national security!

So, back to Taste Guru. Deciding that they may not notice that I cancelled my membership, I decided to send them an email explain why I had cancelled. This is what I said, "Good Morning! I just wanted to send a note to let you know why I cancelled my monthly delivery. As I was looking through your site I noticed your support for Meatless Monday.Being that this is a movement supported by extreme animal rights groups such as the Humane Society of the US and PETA ( who really care nothing about pet welfare, but want to eliminate all animal agriculture), I can not support your company either. I hope that you take this into consideration when selecting movements. Please do your research before jumping on the bandwagon. Meatless movements are not good for our health."

I figured, that I would hear nothing. So, when late the same night I received in response,"I'm sorry that you made the decision to cancel your account based on our article about "Meatless Monday". We never had intention to take one side or the other on anything but gluten free products and lifestyle. We did a Meatless Monday post because there is a lot gluten free people that order our boxes that are vegetarian and we were catering to them. We try and report as much of an open diet as we can. It's great that you feel that strongly about this and I commend your stance on this topic. I hope you understand that we had no intention to promote what PETA or the Humane Society does. We were only posting a wonderful recipe free of meat. Thanks for your concern and your email.", I was pleasantly surprised.

Now, I am not so sure that they really cared that I cancelled my deliveries. I understand that they have a variety of clientele. Some that probably are vegetarian for reasons that are founded in inaccuracies instead of need or even personal preference. But I will say that I found a small amount of comfort when they said they "had no intention to promote PETA or [what]the Humane Society does" and perhaps may have had them think about what they as a company promote vs. what they want to share. I hope that they think carefully before they pick a title for their posts.

Some may say they were being politcally correct and giving me a feel good answer. I hope I left them thinking, questioning, and wondering what they may be unintentionally supporting. If nothing else, they now know of connections that their heading has and I feel if nothing else, they have acknowledged awareness.

I ended my conversation with Taste Guru stating, "Thank you for responding! I do appreciate that Taste Guru is trying to provide ideas for meal planning. I just wish it would have been done under a different heading, as catchy as it is, it is a bad message. I respect peoples food choices and have no problems with the recipes offered, just the heading and the connections it has.
Katie Heger"

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Power of Positive Pressure

I continue to be amazed by the positive power of a little peer pressure. It seems like peer pressure is generally thought of as negative, but it can also do good! 

Over the last few days, my oldest son and a few friends decided that they really wanted a classmate to play football this year. The classmate had not played the previous year, nor played on their basketball team the past two years. Despite that, he attended several basketball games to cheer his friends on!
So, this group of boys went into action. On Saturday they talked to their friend and spent time with him at a local festival. They also talked to his mom and urged her to sign him up. Then, they kept on talking and talking and talking to him and with each other late into the night.  They. The one friend and the group of boys, talked Sunday while hanging at the lake. They even got a few others involved in the plan to get their friend to play. They knew that football practice is a lot of work and that their friend was worried about it, but they kept the talk light and focused on the fun parts! They even suggested that he just come and hang out to see what it was all about! 

And guess what..... Today, Monday, the first day of practice, he was there! He showed up, practiced, and plans to come back tomorrow! 

This is what sports, community and friendship is all about! I couldn't be prouder of all involved... My son, his friends who worked together and heir friend who showed up to play! It's going to be a great year! 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Take a Moment, It Matters

No pictures in this post, just thoughts.

As I sit in another day of rain ( weeks with only a day if sun here or there) wondering if our crop will ever get planted, thinking about what the impact will be if it doesn't, knowing that my husband is stressed to the max, knowing that I don't have the right words to say, knowing that hundreds of farmers have water over roads, fields flooded, some don't even have one seed in the ground, and some in places other than ND continue to struggle with drought and lack offood for livestock. I think about how some chuckle at neighbors for trying to work in the very muddy field when they get stuck. I spend time thinking about how many cattle are getting sick due to lack of dry places. I pondering the economic impact locally/ nationally/ internationally of the potential lack of commodity produced..... I ask, how do we make sure we make it through. How do I make sure that the stress doesn't break my husband, my neighbor, my farm? How do I reach out?  What are my resources, what kind of coping solutions can I use/offer/share? The answers are few and far between and none seem to be all to satisfying. 
Farmers and Ranchers are people of pride. They want to be strong. They know farming is a gamble with a risk of extreme extremes. BUT, they need support too. They need to know that their neighbor, who may have just taken their best employee or rented land out from under them, is struggling too. They need to check in with others and have others check in on them. They need to know that we all make mistakes, can't always control the circumstances, but can control how we react to them. 
It wasn't too long ago that I started to dig in to the impact of stress in the farming and ranching communities. The results were eye-opening...Anxiety, in- ability to think clearly, physical impairments, depression, suicide. 
So, I ask that we all take a minute to connect with each other. Ask someone in good times and tough times how they are doing. When you know things are tough, take an extra minute to let them know you are thinking about them.  Our world has become distant, more impersonal as the days go by, but as humans, people with a heart, we need personal interaction. We need others. Pride is something to be respected, but there is nothing that builds pride more than being a good neighbor, friend, acquaintance. Take time to connect. It may just save a life!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Hidden Cost/ Investment of Gardening

Gardening is a passion of mine. I love to be outdoors, soaking up a bit of sun, producing food in my backyard, getting my kids to work together, and sharing what grows with others, but it all comes with a cost. 
The other day I started to think about trade offs, costs, investments, and expenses. Then I went outside and began cleaning out the garden preparing it for tillage and planting. My 3 year old and 5 year old were helping me while the other kids worked on other things in the yard. They all took time to goof around and play too. We were having a wonderful afternoon. So I then thought about the things I gained and lost as a result of having a decent sized garden. 

Here are some things I thought of:
Gains/ Investments:
* time outdoors
* interaction with my kids 
* fresh produce
* understanding of growing process
* less trips to store for veggies
* kids eat snacks out of garden in summer
* looks pretty

Costs/ Losses:
* plants/ seeds
* fertilizer
* planting stakes/ rope/ tomato supports
* less time to get indoor tasks done
* time ( planting, weeding, collecting, canning)
* processing supplies for canning

All in all it is about the bigger picture... Do we focus on the costs or the investments? Yes, sometimes, I feel as if my beans/ melons/ herbs are the most expensive in the county, disappointment when I only get 2 pumpkins, sad that I didn't make the time to do something with the hundreds of tomatoes that rotted/ froze on the plant, and frustrated that my broccoli went to seed before it even grew a head. But, the ability to eat right out of it, trying to grow different things,  looking for recipes that I may be able to use to convince my family to try something new, the ability to share the goods from the garden with friends, family and our local school, and see my kids "play" in it far outweighs the costs. 
So, think about what you may gain from planting a full garden or even growing a pot of beans or tomatoes on the back steps. 
You'd be amazed what a bit of gardening can do for the soul!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Reuse, Reduce, Recycle.... Farmer Style

When I was growing up Earth Day was about walking the area around the school picking up trash. We also "studied" the 3 R's... Reuse,Reduce, and Recycle! Today, as a farmer, I reflect on Earth Day. There is not much that has changed, just perhaps implemented a bit differently. Farmers are some of the original Earth friendly people! Here is just a peek at some of Earth friendly things we do at Heger Farms.

As I reflect on our farm and what we do each day the 3 R's stand out and stand strong.

Reuse: There are many items that we we use... tires, wood, bolts, tubing, brackets, seed bags, chemical tubs, machinery, towel, T-shirts, etc. We have a fine collection of items that get transformed in to new objects, art, tools, pipe plugs, rags, new pieces of machinery, etc. each and every day. Even items that have been laying around for awhile, find new ways to be used. We feel that almost eveything has a second life in one way or another. Yes, even livestock poop is reused.. it's great fertilizer!

Reduce: Our farm is a minimum till farm. We work very hard and with intent to minimize the amount of soil disruption each planting and harvest season. This means that in the spring we do not turn the soil over to make it "pretty" and black. We have chosen machinery that allows us to plant our crop into the soil with only a small path of disruption. This means that the nutrients and top soil do not get blown or washed away. In addition, through research and technlogy, we have been able to plant a pinto bean variety that stands tall, called upright pinto beans that can be solid seeded, or seeded without spaces between rows. Solid seeding helps control weeds and untintentional crops ( from pervious years seeds in the ground) This also means we can eliminate tilling the soil 2 times before planting, cultivating between rows 2 times, taking time and fuel to cut them and and then combine rows.
Leaving stubble ( see above pic) also helps develop nutrient and maintain value in the soil so that farmers do not have to apply them to grow a healthy crop.
We also are able to reduce the amounts of fertilizer, chemical and seed usage on our farm. With cutting edge precision agricultural technology we know what fields, or parts of fields, produce the best. We also know the nutient makeup of the soil in various parts of each field. This information allows us to adjust the fertilizer, seeds, and chemicals so that we do not use more seed than what the land can produce, and product for that specific plant in a specific part of a field.

Recycle: On our farm there are several products that we could recycle... the most common is oil. We collect the used oil from our vehicles and machinery. About once a year a company comes and picks it up. They then pay us for the oil... this becomes the money that we invest back into the farm, our kids, and some of their 4-H projects!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Oh These Small Towns

Growing up in the city of Minneapolis, I had no clue what small rural towns were all about. In 2000 I moved from Fargo/ Moorhead( where I went to college) to Underwood, ND, a town of about 850 people.
Initially I was overwhelmed by the fact that people knew my name. Then it seemed like everyone knew what I was doing or had done. After that, I realized that more and more people were related to my husband, everyone was family, and I could never just "be alone". I felt as if I couldn't even use the bathroom without someone finding out how many squares of toilet paper I used.
After some time, other people moved into town and they became the ones that people examined. I became a thing of the past and it was no big deal if I wore my flannel pants to the grocery store.
Through the process of becoming familiar and comfortable in my new hometown, I became to realize that yes, people are noisier than those in my neighborhood in Minneapolis, but that they mean well. They want to make sure that they get to know you so that they feel secure. They are also watching out for you and others. I figured out that they really didn't care if my lights never came on at night or that I left my TV on all night or that my garbage can stayed at the end of my driveway for several days instead of returning back next to the house immediately after the trash was picked up. They cared that there was a change or that something was different. They wanted to make sure everything was OK.
After living in a small town now for 13 years, I will say that I still feel this is true. The people care. They care about their property, their families, their communities, and their neighbors. I can honestly say that if there is one thing that small towns do well, it is pull together in tough times! Whether it be illness, injury, accident, tragedy or loss of a loved one, people, even those we don't feel close to, come together to lend a hand, offer support, and help out.
So, the next time I sigh and think about the 45 minute drive I have to get to Walmart or that I can't find a birthday gift for that last minute party one of my kids was invited to, I will remember what small towns are all about... support, socialization, and security!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Easter Sweets

Now that it has been almost a week since Easter was celebrated, I look back at the pictures and delight in the joy of the day!
A photo essay full of expressions, some- well a lot of frosting, eggs, and time with family!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Power of McFood

Some suppers are not about well put together meals, but simply feeding the masses quickly in between a variety of activities. Tonight was one of those nights. I prepared PB&J sandwiches, fish filets and baked mashed potato puffs. As the kids walked through the kitchen they were not impressed and asked what I was making for breakfast tomorrow.

I quickly thought.... Cereal! Nothing like forgoing a hot breakfast in efforts of getting them to eat dinner. Then one said. I think I will wait and eat at school in the morning. Thinking fast again, "What? You don't want McFish and McTaters?" I replied.

"McFish? Yah I'll have that. Can I have ranch?", said the previously not interested child. And so the McFood became a hit. All four big kids ate without a complaint.

I will openly admit that I am sick of McDonalds and my kids' desperate plea to eat there each time we go to Bismarck, but I am thankful tonight to the McSensation and for its influence on the now empty space in my freezer and the full bellies of my kids!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Campfire on the Carpet

Every six months or so, I have one child, my 5 year old, that is involved in some sort of accident. Most of the time Mr. Chris ends up in the ER with a cast or stitches. This time we stayed home, but his heart was still pounding!

I was upstairs putting away groceries. Chris was downstairs playing. He decided that he was going to hide a paper fortune cookie (origami paper fortune teller) in the wall light to keep his sister from finding it. Yes, the light was on!

As I was putting the milk away I heard, "FIRE, FIRE, MOOOOOOOOOOOM, FIRE!" I dashed to the stairs and immediately saw and smoke. I pause to tell you that we are staying at my in-laws for a few weeks while we do some work on our house. I have been a bit fussy (ok anal retentive)about everything- eating and drinking only in the kitchen, toys get put away, no crayons or markers or playdoh downstairs, clothes picked up etc. So, the smoke and fire sent me into a panic.

I leaped down the stairs to almost the bottom to a nice pile of burning paper on the steps. I put the fire out and to my amazement Chris was distraught because I had used his favorite notebook to smother it!

I wanted to ask, "What were you thinking?" but instead muttered up, " Are you ok? Did that scare you? Where did you find fire?" After some discussion I mustered up the energy to get the wet/ dry vac and suck the ashes up and then drag out the carpet scrubber and rinse, rinse and rinse again the carpet. After about 10 rinses and a bit of cleaner, it was looking a bit better.

But I have a bit more cleaning to do! Perhaps even a haircut to get rid of the melted strands.

Needless to say, the smell of campfire has invaded my in-laws home. I chuckled to myself and thought... I wonder if there are any marshmallows and chocolate bars around. The greatest challenge to the whole situation is telling my in-laws. They are gone for a few more weeks so I may have a bit of time to get the carpet looking even better. Maybe they won't notice? Then I took quick glimpse, I decided they had to to be told. Perhaps, the 5 year old should break the news. You can't get upset at him, right? And after all they did survive raising my husband who can be "accident" prone and very curious and spontaneous..... Hmmmm. Yes, Chris will break the news!
Now to find the chocolate!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Taking on the Prom

Today was a first for this mom... PROM! No my kids aren't in high school, but one of our babysitters is and asked Chris, age 5 to walk in the Grand March with her.

He was VERY excited! The evening started with the official getting "manned up" process. Yes that included shaving, " man- spray", and deoderant! Chris even insited that he wear his underwear and sock to "man-up" just like the men do.

After a bit of prep work he was ready to put on his clothes. Nothing like a little guy in a vest and tie to win you over, right? But then we added the hat... and as he said, " the ladies will melt like butter". Where he gets his lines, I am not sure, but he was right!

We headed out the door in plenty of time to meet his "date". When we got to the school he found her right away! He allowed us to snap a few pictures and then waited for his turn to walk down the aisle. At the end of the aisle he kneeled and presented her with flowers. The audience sighed! What a little man!

The evening ended with a dance and a few punch cups, which he took home to save until the next time his date babysits so they can continue the party!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Crazy Bedtime Routine

Most nights I push my kids to get cleaned up, in PJs, and snuggled in bed. Tonight Steven came home later than most winter nights so everything was running behind. Suddenly it was VERY late and wild!

The kids decided that wrestling and spinning and sliding down the stairs was a better idea than baths, teeth brushing and a story.

After I finally took the stair sliding box away and convinced one of the kids that she should find a book for dad to read, that things started to calm down... Well kind of... Story time became combined with wrestling.

The night ended just prior to injuries and with a pile of kids trying to convince me that they can sleep with dad on the floor!
Good times and good memories. It was also good timing since dad will be out much later very soon when the planting season of the farm year begins.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mommy's Day(s) Out

With five kids running around and a busy time for farming right around the corner, I have decided that I needed to do something for myself! Funny thing is, it ties directly into my busy life. I, along with a friend of mine - another busy mom- decided to attend the Women's Farm and Forestry Conference this week in St. Paul, MN!

I was very excited to spend time with another adult,and with minimal interruptions. The plan was to not have a plan for a day and a half and then attend the conference. For the most part this panned out. We started the day with lunch and then a glimpse at a home project of hers. After some down time in the town of Jamestown, ND we were off for the Twin Cities!

We talked and talked and talked! We also hit ND/MN late winter roads.... rain, snow, sun and wind make for SLOW interesting driving!

Day 2 was full of shopping! We spent 4 hours at IKEA. We found plenty, loaded the pickup up and still have lists of things that we want to purchase!

We also hit the Mall of America (MOA) and could have spent the next few days there, but only had a few hours so we stopped at the American Girls store of course!
After a long day shopping, my friend and I hit up the mexican restaurantfro dinner with my parents! They even brought me my favorite bread! SCORE!

We checked in to the St. Paul Hotel....VERY BEAUTIFUL.... and with Valet Parking. I was elated that I didn't have to squeeze my truck in or out of a small parking spot in the city! Then we got ready to enjoy quality uninterrupted sleep. We even promised not to snore!

Monday and Tuesday were a blast!

There was a lot of info, brainstorming, and networking! One of the best parts was meeeting some of the people I follow on Facebook that are currently having a big impact in the US on agricultural issues. I also thoroughly enjoyed meeting numerous new fabulous people that shared so much and got me thinking about more things than usual!

Mommy's day(s) out were filled with a variety of activities. Ones that were well worth the travel and time away from the kids, farm and office. But I will be honest, this mommy was ready to give hugs and snuggle with her family when she returned home.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A New Learning Format For Me

I am a life long learner. I actively seek out information on a variety of topics. I attend numerous conferences, classes, and read several publications hoping to gain understanding and in efforts of broadening my knowledge base. I prefer learning opportunities in person, with small groups where I can apply the info to something that will make a difference in my farm business or in my teaching. Today, I was introduced to the direction that learning opportunities are headed in a very fast pace.... ONLINE!

Kevin Klair from the Center of Farm Financial Management at the University of Minnesota shared the following info....


Which says to me that I need to get comfy with online format, should I choose to learn online, I can do so in my PJ's and with less time invested in transportation, and that I also should be more successful because I am an older than average student and female. Another bonus is that it is less expensive to take many trainings online than in person. (It does cost significantly more to develop online material... 1 online hour takes about 220 hours of prep work!)

I guess I will be logging on with yet another ID and password in my efforts of staying in fashion with the learning community!