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Heger Family Farms

Honoring the Past, Working Today, Preparing for the Future

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Why 4H? 

4H is a club that I never knew about growing up.We had Girl Scouts on and off and I remember my grandma talking about Campfire Girls. But 4H… hmmm. Well, about seven years ago I began to discover all that it can offer. Yes- a lot of opportunities to do projects and raise and show livestock, but also opportunities to learn new things while gainig leadership and civic insight. 

So although the week before the county fair is stressful and filled with late nights and last minute painting, glueing and baking,  I enjoy all of it! Why? Mostly because it is  also filled with accomplishment, pride and memories! 

My daughter wrote the following article for a local paper and I think she was pretty spot on! 

4H: It’s for You and Me                                   by: Libby Heger

4H is a leadership club for youth ages 5-18 that provides an opportunity to learn new things and develop new skills. The 4 H’s stand for Head, Heart, Hands and Health. The focus of 4H is to better or improve the club, community, country and the world. I joined Kountry Kids 4H in Underwood when I was six years old. I got started because I wanted to learn more about agriculture and many of friends were joining too. I quickly learned that 4H was not only about agriculture but about developing skills in the areas of cooking, art, sewing, science, welding and wood working. 4H is also showing me how to be a leader and better communicator.

 

4H has a lot of opportunities for youth. Some of the opportunities I have taken advantage of include: camp, hippology club, Citizenship in Action, Tractor and ATV certification, livestock showing, communication arts, and static exhibits. Other areas I look forward to exploring are livestock and range judging. To me the benefits of being in 4H are learning new life skills, tips and tricks to things I already know to make them easier and more efficient, and completing new skill tasks. Being a 4H member can also help a person when applying for scholarships and continued training after high school graduation.

There are many activities that youth can choose to participate in and there is only so many hours in the day. Sometimes it can be hard to decide what clubs, teams and organizations to be part of. I know from experience that 4H is a club worthwhile and one I would highly recommend checking out! To find a club near you go to: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/mcleancountyextension/4h-and-youth

Autism: Through the Window

Emotions run high and often the question of “why?” enters the mind. The world of Autism is fascinating, it is frustrating, it is filled with promise!

autismBeing a parent of a child who seemed to be a typical child for the first 18-24 months, it was heart breaking when “little quirks” began to appear.  My child was content to do things or watch the same program for hours, he enjoyed being around adults, toe walked, was a VERY picky eater, black and white concrete thinker, easily overwhelmed and would melt down- crying, screaming and striking out. He was also extremely anxious. Amazingly even with all these struggles he still smiled, asked questions and woke each morning looking forward to the day.  I longed to hold my child, rock and enjoy his company instead of hold him for his own safety. I often told myself, “If I could just peek inside, see through the window”, maybe I would be able to understand and be a better parent.

I was a special education teacher and yet it wasn’t for many years that I understood what all was going on. Through the years we sought support: OT, PT, communication therapy, counseling and pharmaceutical interventions. I read a lot and observed. As the years progressed and with the help and support of amazing OT’s, PT’s, SLP’s and teachers we have made it to the final years of high school. I would have never imaged, but always hoped that we would get to this point. Truly today my child’s anxiety is manageable, eating habits improved, he has the ability to know his own needs and share them, think and function with less rigidity, and participate in “regular” activities with his peers and adults. I now cry for very different reasons. I am no longer scared for what the future holds- I am hopeful. I am not sad for what we have gone through- I have grown in understanding and compassion. I cry because my family and those around us have been blessed. It really is about deciding whether the cup is half full or half empty.

Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 9.08.33 AM
We’ll Get By (The Autism Song) Johnny Orr Band

Check out this amazing song and music video:                                                                       https://youtu.be/cBOSr7JK8OA?list=PL075BE3078E117E4C

As a parent of a child on the Autism Spectrum, I tell you keep the faith, be patient, do what is right for your child and family, and know that even when you feel there is no one else struggling like you are, that you truly are not alone! It is no a race to the end, but a journey. Love unconditionally and help them build and live THEIR dreams. The future is bright, the sunshine just may come from a little different direction than we expected!

Autism is not curable, it’s what I call curbable, moldable, shapable. A person will always have tendencies, it is part of who they are, but can learn to adapt their needs and understand the world around them.

“Everyone has a mountain to climb and autism has not been my mountain, it has been my opportunity for victory.” – Dani Bowman

Laundry Soap: Clean Work

I have seen posts about homemade laundry soap on and off over the years. My sister made some a few years back and raved about it and how cheap it was. I just kind of brushed it off as something that “others” do and thought it was a lot of work and really not much of a savings.

Well, I received a container of homemade laundry soap and the recipe as a gift and decided to try it out. It did a nice job cleaning clothes. The clothes, even the farm work clothes came clean and smelled fresh! So what did I do? I made some…. how much? Well, a years worth plus ! Really, I really made that much and it all fit in a 5 gallon bucket!

IMG_9487Now I am sure you wonder, what ingredients were used, why I made so much and what the cost was etc. So I will break it down.

Single Batch Ingredients: 1 cup Borax, 1 cup Washing Soda (Arm &Hammer), 1/4 cup Baking Soda, 2 cups shredded Zote bar soap.

IMG_9483Directions: place all ingredients in a food processors and blend until the Zote is “pulverized” or fine. Place in a storage container and get busy washing away!  Use 1 TBSP for small- average size loads, 2 TBSP for large or heavily soiled loads.

( Single batch does 68 loads. I made 24 batches)

 

 

Cost for 24 batches: 

Borax: $3.97/ box x 3 2/3 boxes = $14.56

Washing Soda: $3.97/ box x 3 2/3 boxes = $14.56

Baking Soda: $2.99

Zote: $1.49/ bar x 12 = $17.88

Total: 49.99 ( $2.08 per batch)

WOW!!!!!!

That means that I made enough soap for 1632 loads or 816 large or loads of farm clothes. At our house we have large washing machines that I take full advantage of so I use 2 TBSPs at a time. I figure that I do 12 loads laundry a week plus about 30 extra loads throughout the year. That equals 654 loads a year ( give or take) which gives me a “little bit” extra in the bucket! IMG_9490

So how does homemade laundry soap compare to others that are frequently purchased?

ALL Free and Clear Pods: 45 pod package = $8.19 = $.18 per pod or $.36 for large load

Target Up & Up Pods: 35 pod package = $5.99 = $.17 per pod or $.34 for large load

Tide Pods: 42 pod package= $11.99 = .$29 per pod or $.57 for large load

Tide Liquid: 96 load jug = $17.99= $19 per load or $.37 for large load

Tide Powder: 68 load box = $11.99 = $.17 per load or $.35 for large load

Homemade Soap: 68 load batch= $.03 per load or $.06 for large load.

Double Wow!

The decision was pretty easy for me that the switch when I crunched the numbers! If you can spare about 2 hours mixing a few simple ingredients together, you can save quite a bit of cash!

Time to get busy…. laundry is one of those things that never ends!

 

Laundry Soap: Clean Work

I have seen posts about homemade laundry soap on and off over the years. My sister made some a few years back and raved about it and how cheap it was. I just kind of brushed it off as something that “others” do and thought it was a lot of work and really not much of a savings.

Well, I received a container of homemade laundry soap and the recipe as a gift and decided to try it out. It did a nice job cleaning clothes. The clothes, even the farm work clothes came clean and smelled fresh! So what did I do? I made some…. how much? Well, a years worth plus ! Really, I really made that much and it all fit in a 5 gallon bucket!

IMG_9487Now I am sure you wonder, what ingredients were used, why I made so much and what the cost was etc. So I will break it down.

Single Batch Ingredients: 1 cup Borax, 1 cup Washing Soda (Arm &Hammer), 1/4 cup Baking Soda, 2 cups shredded (use cheese grater) Zote bar soap.

IMG_9483Directions: place all ingredients in a food processors and blend until the Zote is “pulverized” or fine. Place in a storage container and get busy washing away!  Use 1 TBSP for small- average size loads, 2 TBSP for large or heavily soiled loads.

( Single batch does 68 loads. I made 24 batches)

 

 

Cost for 24 batches: 

Borax: $3.97/ box x 3 2/3 boxes = $14.56

Washing Soda: $3.97/ box x 3 2/3 boxes = $14.56

Baking Soda: $2.99

Zote: $1.49/ bar x 12 = $17.88

Total: 49.99 ( $2.08 per batch)

WOW!!!!!!

That means that I made enough soap for 1632 loads or 816 large or loads of farm clothes. At our house we have large washing machines that I take full advantage of so I use 2 TBSPs at a time. I figure that I do 12 loads laundry a week plus about 30 extra loads throughout the year. That equals 654 loads a year ( give or take) which gives me a “little bit” extra in the bucket! IMG_9490

So how does homemade laundry soap compare to others that are frequently purchased?

ALL Free and Clear Pods: 45 pod package = $8.19 = $.18 per pod or $.36 for large load

Target Up & Up Pods: 35 pod package = $5.99 = $.17 per pod or $.34 for large load

Tide Pods: 42 pod package= $11.99 = .$29 per pod or $.57 for large load

Tide Liquid: 96 load jug = $17.99= $19 per load or $.37 for large load

Tide Powder: 68 load box = $11.99 = $.17 per load or $.35 for large load

Homemade Soap: 68 load batch= $.03 per load or $.06 for large load.

Double Wow!

The decision was pretty easy for me that the switch when I crunched the numbers! If you can spare about 2 hours mixing a few simple ingredients together, you can save quite a bit of cash!

Time to get busy…. laundry is one of those things that never ends!

 

Women in Ag: Adventure and Opportunity

No matter what a day on my family farm holds, I can be sure it will start early and with a large cup of coffee. Being active on our farm and sharing with others how we farm and why, all while raising a family makes each day an adventure. So, with the blaring of the alarm and the percolating of the coffee pot, I jump out of bed and let the good times roll.

Even though men are most often pictured as the faces of farming, women are actually the fastest growing group in agriculture. We play a vital role on our family farms, and are active in the food and agriculture conversation. Women purchase and run machinery, make seed and crop care choices, keep the books and budgets, do the shopping and meal prep, attend regular training and keep tabs on the social component within their own farm and family and the broader agricultural community. Through my personal outreach and desire to share what happens on our farm, I have had the privilege of meeting hundreds of inspirational women—most with different stories and backgrounds than mine.

Our farm is conventional, integrating technology and many modern approaches to raising crops. But many of the women I meet farm very differently, and many of the moms I engage with have different perspectives of what farming should look like. At first when I would have these conversations, I felt defensive, but I made it a practice first to listen and then ask lots of questions. With time and practice, I wasn’t as intimidated and defensive. These conversations became learning opportunities all around. As we shared from our perspectives, we began to see that even if we ate differently, parented differently, farmed differently and contributed to our families and businesses in different ways, we still had many things in common. We made informed choices that we felt were best for our families. Who can argue with that? Perhaps most importantly, we learned to be open to new perspectives, to ask more questions and to better understand our own actions, beliefs, choices.

Each day on my farm is different, but I have three main roles. First and foremost I am a caretaker. I work to make sure that everyone gets up and out the door, has been fed, laundry has been started, that there is a path through the house and it looks somewhat tidy, and that we all know the schedule for the rest of the day. My next role is farm support. Although this is a consistent role, it can look very different each day. Somedays, I work in the office doing book keeping and other paperwork, making phones calls and planning. Other days, I am running for parts, driving semi, attending training, or whatever else gets tossed my way.

Advocacy is another regular and important part of my day. Again, depending on what is happening it can look very different. Sometimes advocating means talking to neighbors at the store, reading or teaching in a classroom, and sharing pictures and stories on social media. Other times it is more formal and can include speaking engagements, hosting a classroom at the farm, organizing and hosting events, or talking with the media and becoming involved in the world of politics.

A woman’s work on the farm truly is never done, but it is always an adventure. I can be sure that no two days will look alike. For me the day begins with a cup of coffee and hitting the ground running, but ends with reflection and a cup of tea. I am so grateful for how each of my roles keeps me involved, busy, challenged and active in our family, farm and community, and I wouldn’t trade my ag adventure.

 

Oh… Christmas Cookie

I LOVE to cook and despise cleaning up! Sometimes I get a wild hair and start cooking and baking away, not knowing if anything I end up with in the end will be good or if anyone will be around to eat it.

So what do I do in the cooking department for holiday baking? Well, it seems that I don’t do much. No real good excuses except that spontaneous cooking is much more my style and December always seems to be busy with little time for spontaneity. I do know though that I depend on almond bark! Almost everything can be coated or drizzled with it and if sprinkled or rolled in embellishments such as candy cane pieces, nuts, mini marshmallows and candy, it looks and taste scrumptious.

I also do make bars – often coloring the batter so that it is more festive. But cut-outs…. oh those cut outs… I just really struggle with them. They drive me crazy because my type A, controlling and perfectionistic personality causes me to have an quasi- panic attack. So cutouts in moderation are a must!

Last week when most of the kids at our house went downhill skiing the youngest and I were at home. She wanted to cook. So, I figured this was the perfect time for cut-outs. We made one batch of dough, cut and cooked, and then she decorated. Well, WE decorated. For you see, she still likes mom’s help when things start to get a little messy. It was a win-win for us both!

But I didn’t have any other holiday “baking” done. I hadn’t even made chocolate covered pretzels- boy was I behind! It was quiet and I had a little helper, so I figured that last Saturday was the day to try something new. With the sugar cookie recipe on the counter and my creative rarely follow a recipe cooking style in tow, I set to work. I switched out 1 stick of butter for a package of cream cheese, added a little almond extract and a bit of extra flour. They dough was tasty! So I rolled them into balls, used a cup with a grid pattern on the bottom and squashed them into what looked to be mini-pancakes and baked them for a bit…img_8147

When they were done cooking, they were a bit dull in color so an almond glaze went on top… then they were finished!

Easy, basic ingredients, tasty and enjoyed by many…. Next time I will split the dough and add color to each section. Then the cookie tray will be even more merry and bright!

 

Recipe: 

Dough: 3 1/2 half flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 cup white sugar, 1 stick butter, 1- 8 oz pkg cream cheese, 1 egg, 1 TBSP milk, 1 TBSP almond extract

Glaze: 4 TBSP powered sugar, 1 TBSP water ( or about) and a Tsp of Almond Extract. Mix until smooth and drizzle/ spread thin layer over top of cookies.

Preheat over to 350. Measure and mix dry ingredients- set aside. Mix butter, sugar,egg, milk, almond extract until smooth. Slowly add dry ingredients until mixed well and a ball of dough is formed. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Place parchment paper on cookie sheet. Roll dough into 1-2 inch balls, flatten and bake for about 7 minutes. They will be pale in color, check bottom- slightly golden is perfect!

Let sit for 2-5 minutes.

Add glaze and eat!

 

 

 

 

 

The Christmas Card Fiasco

So it is that time of year. The time of year that Christmas cards need to be addressed and I need to decide whether or not to write a letter to accompany it. I have to think about who  is going to get cards and who is not. Who has our family fallen out of touch with or, quite honestly, who can I skip if I run short. The trick is identifying that forgiving friend that is ok with a texted picture of the card and those who won’t even know they didn’t receive one.screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-9-30-28-pm

But the letter…that is the hardest part. With seven of us in the house I have to be fairly concise. I take a bit of time to reflect on the past year and feel like we haven’t done anything “out of the ordinary”. I pause to think about what others would want to hear and some of the things my kids and family have done. Finding the balance between sharing and bragging can be hard. Having a letter that doesn’t sounds like we live in a constant chaos and have too many different schedules is hard too. And heaven forbid I even consider saying something like, “As 2016 wraps up and 2017 kicks off, we couldn’t be happier that there will be able people required to go back to work, fossil fuels will regain vitality- drill and mine baby, drill and mine, and we are thrilled to know taxes will become more equitable and US companies will be returning to the US in order to make America great again.”  Who wants to hear about politics in a Christmas letter?!

I deeply believe that Christmas cards and letters should be filled with uplifting light-hearted highlights, stories and experiences – not politics or a written temper-tantrum and pout session.

As I await for my cards to arrive, with an unknown delivery status due to 2 weeks of crazy winter weather here in North Dakota, I sit down to write the letter that I have decided I need to write. But, as my fingers tap on the computer keys I will keep these 5 rules in mind:

  1. Keep Christ in Christmas and focus on our blessings!
  2. Share something school and extra-curricular related for each child!
  3. Share one family highlight!
  4. Keep it short and sweet!
  5. No politics!

So I ask that as you sit down to design cards or write letters think about what you really want to share and what is the most important, what sustains you from minute to minute, day to day and week to week. Keep some guidelines in mind and have some fun!

Merry Christmas to all (and because I don’t have cards to stuff and computer is about to run out of battery) to all a good night!

 

Sustainability Defined!

We all like to see businesses succeed. We like to look at our family and neighbors and feel good about what they are doing and how they are supporting their families, communities and other businesses.

Success= Sustainability!

And success looks, feels, and pencils out a little different for everyone.

So what in my eyes is success or sustainability? Simply put I believe it means that one is being responsible and caring for their resources ( family, employees, soil, seed, livestock, machinery, finances etc.) with utmost care in order to continue the practice of farming into the future. It also means that we share with others why we make the decisions we do.

img_7673

Now that is simple, but each of those items in the parenthesis above is dynamic and comes with a lot of depth and detail. Every farm has to evaluate how they will care for their resources. They have to evaluate the soil types, employee personalities types, machinery functions types, financial resources and types of expenditures needed versus wanted, and finally they are responsible for choosing and using the seeds, feeds, pastures, livestock and tools for care that are best for their farm and ranch business.

One practice and decision doesn’t fit all….. it is a process of knowledge, data evaluation, resources available, personal beliefs, planning, pacing, and then application.

Sustainability is personal!

Sustainability= Longitudinal Success!

 

The Day I Cast My Vote

So I filled in some bubbles, folded it according to the pre-creased lines, placed it in two envelopes and signed the back of my absentee ballot. This was the day I cast my vote.

Was it easy? The bubble filling was, but my decisions came with a lot of thought. The toughest bubble to color- President. I had a few thoughts cross my mind….Do I pick a candidate that is not a “R” or “D”? Do I not fill in a bubble at all? Do I align myself based on the party I identify with primarily? Hmmmm. Lots to consider.

Media has taken both major candidates and highlighted all their social nuances and ill doings. Both Trump and Clinton have been nasty to each other. People have blasted social media with their favorite parodies and personal feelings. Candidates have avoided answering questions and when they do answer share just enough. So, how does a person decide who to vote for when both act like they are auditioning for a new or a revisited 2017 sitcom? Well, I had to step back and look at issues and topics important to me…

Taxes, immigration, abortion, trade, economy.

fullsizerender-15Ok, those are the big ticket items and yes, I did not mention agriculture. You may ask, “How can I do that being that we farm?”. The reason is that many of the issues I did tune in to are related to or have a direct impact on agriculture.

So here is what I did….

The first step I took before deciding which bubbles to fill in was to decide if I had a duty to vote or if it was simply a right granted to be. I had to decide if those thoughts were the same or different. I decided that they were different. I have a right granted to me by our constitution and I have a responsibility to place an informed vote. Should I have decided to not spend time to know what or whom I was voting for, I would be acting irresponsibly and should withhold my vote. BUT, I did take time to read and listen and think before I filled in my circle.

The second step I took, before I dove into each candidates position, was to write down what I felt was important and what my beliefs were on the topics listed above.Why you may ask. Well, simply because it is easy to sway one direction or another as a person dives into information. I knew that media’s drama of the candidates was inevitable and  as I was to embark on a bit of “research” wanted to keep true or as close to my core beliefs as possible. So, I sat down, did a bit of soul searching, and made some notes.

The third step was to dive in and read. I looked at some information shared by organizations I belonged to. I went to the candidates own websites, reviewed positions from my state’s elected officials, watched the debates, and tuned in to various news stations. I made notes and eventually knew that there were just some positions that I couldn’t compromise on. After taking time to “get to know” the candidates positions, I made my decision.

The last step was the easiest- I filled in bubbles, folded the ballot and placed it in the envelope sealing it with my signature.

My right to vote was acted on as a result of the responsibility I felt that right deemed necessary. Just voting for voting sake it scary. Not voting is just as scary. We have the duty to be informed and although finding the truth in matters such as discovering what the presidential candidates are all about may be difficult, we should take the time and energy to make an attempt, to ask questions and listen. In the long run, even if we choose the candidate that is not victorious, we will know that we made an informed choice that reflected what we felt was best. Ultimately THAT, the informed vote based on our beliefs, is the right choice!

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