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Top 10 Posts

top posts of 2014

It’s that time of year – time to look over the accomplishments of the past 12 months and see, well, if I accomplished anything!
According to you, my readers, my biggest accomplishment was replying to Food Babe’s inaccurate info about your Thanksgiving turkey.  The runner up was some art I made out of garbage reclaimed wood for my office.  And, well, you can read the rest.
These are the top 10 posts of 2014, with the most popular (most pageviews) at #1.
My Family Farm - cover with bleed
The one where I announced that my non-fiction children’s book was published! 
The one where I shared my friends’ gorgeous and rustic wedding décor.
The one where I declared I was going to do NaNoWriMo.
7. Top 10 Things I’ve Learned about Agriculture

The one where I spilled my guts about everything I’ve learned in the past 5 years.
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6.  Sad HomeShed News

The one where I told you all that The HomeShed was closing and why.
5. Master Bedroom Reveal

The one where I folded the giant mountain of laundry that lives in my bedroom so that I could take pictures.
4.  Does antibiotic use on farms affect your health?

The one where I explained how we use antibiotics, how they are regulated, and how they affect humans.
farm ultrasound
3.  Baby #3

The one that made you all super excited, only to realize I was talking about our farm.
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2.  DIY Pottery Barn Inspired Reclaimed Wood Wall Art

The one where I tore apart pallets to make some gorgeous wall art for my office.
1.  Ractopamine: My Response to Food Babe

The one where I explained how turkey farmers really use ractopamine. (Spoiler alert: they don’t.)
How about some more enduring favorites? 
Here are the top posts from the last 3 years:

Shared at: Sand and Sisal

Inspiration for the New Year

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas.  We certainly did – the days have been full of family, food, and my boys’ favorite – PRESENTS! 

We also tried to focus on the reason for the season.  Isaac wants to know why Jesus can’t eat cake, and Adam prayed to the Easter Bunny spontaneously during breakfast on Christmas morning. (Okay, so we have a ways to go…it’s a start!)

Anyway, with the New Year upon us, I decided to take some of my favorite inspiration quotes and make them into pretty, printable art.  I was feeling a “grain-sack” theme here, and used Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2015 – Marsala.

These printables are a free gift for my email subscribers.  In order to download the files, you must sign up for my email list below.  After you sign up, you’ll get a confirmation email that has the link to download the printables. (Check your spam folder if you don’t see it right away.)  Any questions, just let me know in the comments!

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Happy New Year,

Click on each picture to see more of my original Word Art (free printables!)

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Shared at Sand & Sisal

Holidays on the Farm

When we were deciding whether or not to be farmers, there were a lot of pros and cons on our lists.  Living in the middle of nowhere (pro), taking on a bazillion dollars debt (con), and raising our kids on the farm (pro), were some of our biggest considerations.  Somehow, we never talked about what holidays would be like on the farm.

Before we farmed, Bart worked for the USDA as a lab tech.  The lab was closed for all federal holidays (and he got other pretty darn good benefits.) 

Now, it doesn’t matter if it’s a federal holiday, religious holiday, or severe weather emergency…there are no days off.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we were scheduled to get a new flock of turkeys.  20,000 poults arrived at 7 am on Saturday.  While many people were still recovering from overeating and over-shopping, we were in the barns working.

We weren’t complaining, though.  The timing was perfect for us.  Bart’s aunt and uncle and their 4 boys were still in town, and they came to help.

Unloading turkeys with three generations of Olthoffs that morning was one of the warm, fuzzy moments in farming.  Watching them work together early on a Saturday morning over a holiday weekend exemplified the concept of a “family farm.”




(A side note, it’s moments like these that I can NOT believe people call our farm a factory farm.  Yes, it’s big.  Yes, it’s efficient.  Yes, we raise our birds indoors.  But our farm values - animal welfare, safe food, the environment, and keeping our farm around for the next generation – are the same now as they were when Bart’s grandpa started raising turkeys almost 6 decades ago.)

The fact that our turkeys were scheduled to arrive over Thanksgiving break turned out to be a blessing this time, because we had extra help.  But it doesn’t always work out that way.

The holidays can be a tough time for farm families because the work just doesn’t stop.  The livestock literally can’t wait to be cared for, and chores take precedence over any holiday celebrations.  In fact, many holiday traditions on the farm evolved because of the animals’ schedules.

I’m part of a facebook group for farm wives, and there was a one-of-a-kind discussion in the group this weekend…


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Of course, farmers aren’t the only ones who have to schedule their holiday celebrations around their work schedule, but it’s kind of neat to see the traditions and schedules of a small sampling of the 2% of Americans who live on farms, don’t you think? It’s definitely not something I thought much about before I started farming.

Holiday Home Tour

I really wanted to share my own “Holiday Home Tour” but my house is currently a disaster.  I could have, maybe, made it photo-shoot ready yesterday afternoon, but we needed to bring something to the elementary bake sale, and like a professional stay-at-home mom, I actually baked instead of buying something pre-made.  I’m pretty proud of myself, even if it means that my kitchen is an explosion of flour and frosting.

Speaking of proud, Adam’s first school concert was last night and he did a great job.  He’d been practicing the songs at home for a long time and knew every word.

Anyway, my friend posted pictures of her sister’s Christmas décor on Facebook the other day, and I jumped on the chance to see it for myself.

The family participated in their local Holiday Tour of Homes, and in addition to their gorgeous “regular” décor, every room had beautiful touches for the holiday. Their “junky” repurposed décor is right up my alley!

I’m going to share more pictures of this house another time, but for now, enjoy some of my favorite Christmas scenes from this amazing family home!

(If you are in Central Iowa, the homeowner has a house cleaning and decorating business, Beauti by Design. Check it out!)

holiday home tour
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