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Free Caps
Tuesday 31st of August 2010 06:10 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

I have a lovely addition to my wardrobe. It is all the rage among fashionable farm wives. The classic cap is enhanced with pink and gray camouflage, perfect for the start of dove season this week.

And best of all: It was FREE!

Wait just a minute. Is that the sound of money draining out of my bank account? Yes, yes. That's the sound all right. Glug, glug, glug ... That free cap just cost me a tidy five-figure sum, even with a five-figure, trade-in credit.

But that's OK. We didn't get just one cap. We got several. One in classic Case red was claimed by Randy and a couple of others went to Jake and his little boy. There was also a lovely Case license tag tossed in the shopping bag.

It's a bargain, right?

A new tractor was added to our County Line line-up last Friday. Well, it is new to us. It's a 2005 Case Steiger STX375.


It replaces a tractor that truly was a lemon. You've heard of cars that are lemons once they roll off the assembly line. Our Case MX240 was the tractor version.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, right? The only people making lemonade out of that tractor was the dealership who was raking in the money on repairs.

So it was definitely time for a revamp, even though it is painful to the pocketbook.

Randy considered going green this time. In fact, by decision time, he was considering three tractors, two of which were green. But he's a RED-blooded farm boy who has been driving red tractors all his life.

He could obviously stomach a little green, since he added a John Deere planter to the mix earlier this year. But for the major hardware? Red, it is.

Actually, he says it was less about the color than it was the pricetag. The Case tractor was less money. It didn't have all the bells and whistles that the John Deere tractors had. But he just needed the basics.

Well, basics are a matter of opinion. I took a ride in the new tractor Saturday, and its computer told us how much fuel we were consuming and how many acres we were working per hour, among other fascinating details.

Jake had taken the tractor to Zenith to fill the 300-gallon capacity fuel tank. He told Randy he didn't want to know how much it cost.

Big men are really just little boys in different packages. Randy was pretty excited about the tractor. On Saturday, we were disking a field that still seemed plenty wet to me.


"Would we be working this field if you didn't have a new tractor?" I asked, not so innocently on Saturday.

Long silence and a grin ensued.

"Well, maybe not," he finally said.


Big boy: New toy.

Little boys like new tractors, too. Trevor, our hired man's little boy, couldn't quit grinning about the new tractor and went for a spin with his dad on Friday.

"This is the best tractor ever," the first grader declared to Randy.

 Let's hope it is, Trevor.

However, some caution flags are going up for this seasoned farm wife. Randy says that it's really more tractor than we need for the implements we have.

Uh oh. That sounds expensive to me.


For more information about me and my family, check out my personal blog at www.kimscountyline.blogspot.com

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Combat Pay
Monday 30th of August 2010 06:10 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line


Warning: If you are not a fan of TV shows featuring the ER, you may want to skip this post.

I'm fine with ER shows on TV. I like medical mysteries. I like the TV dramas featuring life at big city hospitals. I am even OK with shows like "Untold Stories of the ER."

But I'm just not a big fan of starring in any ER dramas.

That didn't much matter on Friday. I made my debut in a little series we like to call "Farm Wife Visits the Stafford ER." Let's hope it was the first and last episode. I'm OK with this being a one-hit wonder.

The moral of this episode: Sometimes, farm wives could use combat pay.

It all began innocently enough. Randy was mowing. (Yeah for Randy! I hate to mow!) Unfortunately, the mower got stuck.

He came in and asked for help to get it out. We were unable to dislodge said mower by huffing and puffing and using sheer brute strength. (Hard to believe my uncanny strength was of no consequence in this endeavor.)

I suggested we get a rope and pull it out with the pickup. So we got a nylon strap and attached one end to the mower and one end to the pickup. I got on the mower to help guide it out of the predicament. Randy got into the pickup and pulled.

And then the problem occurred: The hook popped out from the pickup and ricocheted into my shin, along with a glancing blow from said hook.

It hurt. It hurt a lot. Yes, there were tears involved.

I could walk, so I really didn't think it was broken. But Randy felt so bad about the whole thing that he insisted we go to the ER to get an x-ray.

For the record, it was not broken. It is rather swollen and is developing a lovely patina. (Doesn't that sound better than it's kinda bluish yellow? It sounds more like a treasure on the Antiques Roadshow.)

We have several friends who work at the Stafford Hospital. I had just been there the day before to deliver a community calendar to one of my friends who just happens to do x-rays there.

I told her on Friday that I guess I could have saved myself a trip and just delivered the calendar during my ER visit.

They told him that they had numbers to hand out to wives who came in with bumps and bruises. I told them not to be too hard on him because he truly did feel bad about the whole escapade.

It could have been so much worse. The strap and hook could have hit me in the face. It could have broken more than just a little skin.

So my weekend was a little different than I'd planned. We didn't go to the volleyball and football scrimmage Friday night at Stafford High. I didn't do my normal hour of walking on Saturday. I spent quite a bit of time in the recliner with my leg propped up.

I love to read, and I didn't feel a bit guilty about sitting there and reading my book.

However, I do not advise this method for having a lazy weekend. Just a word to the wise.


It's hard to get a 3D image with a 2D photo. Like I said, I was lucky. My shin is a lot tougher than my head (well, at least in some ways!)


For more about me and my family, check out my personal blog at www.kimscountyline.blogspot.com

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Danger, Will Robinson!
Friday 27th of August 2010 08:47 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

Central Kansas KFRM Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line



I was a Lost in Space addict as a kid. When I was 9, I tried to convince my parents we should name my new baby brother Don. They opted for Kent instead.

At the time, I just couldn't figure it out. Why wouldn't they want to name this newest member of our family after the dreamy Major Don West on my favorite TV show?


Well, I couldn't figure it out until I was in college and saw reruns of Lost in Space. Somehow this cherished TV series got a little cheesier in the ensuing years. It was definitely "B" movie material.

For those of you too young to remember,
Lost in Space was a 60-minute, sci-fi series broadcast on CBS every Wednesday night. It was about the Robinson Family, Major Don West and their faithful robot who left Earth on the Jupiter II spacecraft. They were on a five-year mission to explore a planet in the Alpha Centauri star system. Unfortunately, Dr. Zachary Smith sabotaged the ship, throwing it off course and leaving the entire crew Lost in Space. Gasp! Each week, they traveled from planet to planet, searching for a way back to Earth.

They found plenty of aliens and danger along the way. You would have thought the object of my preadolescent crush would have been Will Robinson, the precocious 9-year-old in the series. He and his friend the robot were always in the thick of the action, hence the often repeated phrase: "Warning! Warning! Danger, Will Robinson!" 


Well, we aren't battling any aliens here on the County Line, though we continue to slog through a little mud and the weed population seems to have taken on a mutant-like aggressiveness after almost 3.5 inches of rain earlier in the week.


 But there are dangers lurking in the kitchen cabinets, I tell you. There's a half-full jar of Nutella. I had never tried this hazelnut-chocolate spread, but I saw a recipe (and irresistible photo) on another blog and just had to try it.

It's definitely a dangerous substance to have around. I made the recipe for a church potluck because I didn't figure I could be trusted with them just sitting around the house.

But then I had another problem. I still had Nutella leftover. That was definitely not a good thing. It is sitting in my kitchen cabinet, tempting me as I speak. My personal dietitian (daughter Jill) says I should throw it away. It was a little too pricey for me to do that. But maybe I should make another batch of these brownies and stash them in the freezer. Out of sight, out of mind? We can only hope.

If you're looking for a decadent, gooey brownie, I recommend these. But don't say I didn't warn you. There's danger lurking around every kitchen corner.


 Nutella Caramel Hazelnut Oooey Gooey Brownies

(photo is from the Tasty Kitchen website: I didn't figure I could top the photo.)

Nutella Caramel Hazelnut Oooey Gooey Brownies
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Difficulty: Easy

½ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon baking Powder
1 pinch salt
1 cup sugar
½ cup butter
2 whole eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup Nutella, melted (more if desired)
¼ cup caramel sauce, melted
1 bag (8 oz.) hazelnuts

Preparation Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Into a mixing bowl, add flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder. Using a whisk, mix together and set aside. Into a stand mixer, add the sugar and butter; cream together. Add in eggs, one at a time, and mix well. Add in vanilla. Gradually add in flour mixture until it’s well combined. Batter should be thick and sticky.

Spray an ovenproof dish with cooking spray. Place a piece of parchment paper (slightly larger than the dish to allow for handles) inside. It will adhere to the bottom of the dish. Take half of the brownie batter and smooth it on top of the parchment paper. Take caramel sauce and spoon it on top of the brownie mixture, covering the entire layer of brownie. Place the remaining brownie batter on top, smoothing it out. Place in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until sides are firm and center is no longer giggly.

Allow brownies to cool completely before removing. Cut brownies to your desired size using a serrated knife. Make a small indentation with your finger into each brownie. Take melted Nutella and drizzle over the tops of the brownies. Garnish with the hazelnuts.

Note: The original recipe said it served 9, but it didn't give a pan size. So, I guessed that they meant for me to use a 9- by 9-inch pan. Since I was making the recipe for a church potluck, I doubled the recipe and put them in a 9- by 13-inch pan. It worked fine. I didn't double the hazelnuts and still had some leftover.

For more recipes or to learn more about life on the County Line, check out my personal blog at www.kimscountyline.blogspot.com

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Luck of the Draw
Thursday 26th of August 2010 07:10 AM

 By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line


What does it take to produce a good stand of alfalfa? I suppose I could innumerate things like a firm seed bed, cooler temperatures and just the right amount of sun and rain.

Those things are all important, according to my personal crop consultant.

But what does it truly take?


Yes, there you have it. The definitive answer is luck.

That isn't according to The Old Farmers' Almanac or some crop science teacher at K-State. No, that's just homespun wisdom from a long ago neighbor. This neighbor always seemed to have great success when he planted new fields of alfalfa. Some of his neighbors asked him why his new alfalfa fields always seemed better established and more lush than theirs.

He gave them his advice, full of things like that firm seed bed and planting by the right light of the moon and other assorted wisdom.

And then, as so often happens when we think we have everything all figured out, he ended up with crop failure after crop failure.

It was then that he dispensed his greatest wisdom.

"Well, boys ..." (I can imagine him pronouncing at the coffee shop). "It turns out the most important factor for alfalfa production is ... luck."

Randy decided to try his luck last week when he planted a couple of new fields of alfalfa. And as is so often the case, his luck ran out about 1:30 in the morning on Tuesday. That's when it started raining. And before it was done, it dumped almost 3.5 inches of rain on the newly planted fields.

At church on Sunday, he told a neighbor that he would order about a quarter inch of rain, slowly dispersed over a day, with the moisture falling gently and evenly on the newly-sown field.

Somehow, the order got mixed up.


Our alfalfa adventure began with a visit to Miller Seed Farm near Hutchinson to pick up seed. Randy did have a little luck involved in this venture before he ever started planting. He won one bag of seed at a customer information meeting earlier in the month. At $200 a bag, that was definitely an evening well-spent (plus he got supper out of the deal, too)!


Another nice by-product of planting alfalfa? It's a great weightlifting exercise to carry all the 50-pound bags into the shop until you're ready to use them. (You will notice that I carried my camera instead of the bags, even though I could probably use a little weight training in my fitness routine.)

He and Jake changed the settings on the drill, since you plant alfalfa seed at a shallower depth than wheat seed.


Last Friday, Randy got a little more weightlifting in when he filled the drills with the alfalfa seed. (Again, I successfully avoided the task by using my camera. Now my friends know why I take so many photos.)

 Here's how the alfalfa looked in the drill.


And here's a close-up of the seeds, which are treated with fungicide and inoculant. 


He also mixed in a quarter pound of turnip seed to cover the 70 acres we were planting. The turnips provide a little additional cover during the winter on the newly established alfalfa fields. (Plus, his wife is in charge of the church's food area at the fall bazaar. I'm always looking for turnips to sell by the pound. Nice side benefit.)

Jake disked the fields to clear them of weeds and work in the wheat stubble. It also helps create that firm seed bed.


Randy then followed with the planter. The yellow tank on the planter holds fertilizer, which he also applied as he planted the alfalfa.

An alfalfa field produces hay for about seven years, during which we harvest the crop to feed to our cattle and sell the extra.

And then came the rain.

I then learned another tidbit: Alfalfa doesn't like wet feet. Well, I'm not a huge fan either, but I guess it's a little more serious for the alfalfa. If alfalfa is sitting in water for 48 hours, it will die. That's why mudholes in fields never have alfalfa.


But, there were glimmers of hope. Yesterday morning, we were able to find a few hearty sprouts of alfalfa in the field.


 My eternal optimist isn't ready to write off the entire crop. However, he figures that replanting is in his future. It costs about $50 an acre for seed each time you plant. (That's why I can never re-do the bathrooms in my house. Alas, such is the life of a Kansas farm wife. There are trials along with the considerable perks.)

So next time, we hope to sprinkle in that ever-so-important factor ... LUCK.


For more information about me and my family, head on over to my personal blog, www.kimscountyline.blogspot.com

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Suits Me to a Tea (Towel)
Wednesday 25th of August 2010 07:10 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Kansas Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line


I have learned a lot from my Facebook friends. And to think: A year ago, I was sure I would never join the Facebook fray.

For one, both my kids said they wouldn't be my friend. (Nothing like that memo to shoot a Mom's feelings all to heck.)

But then Jill relented. She saw that my brother and my two sisters were on Facebook. She saw the influx of people of "a certain age" clogging up the status updates on her account and declared that she would befriend me after all.

I still wasn't so sure about it. I can find plenty of ways to waste time. I didn't particularly need another way.

But, in the end, I figured, "Oh, why not!?"

I still am not the best Facebook person. I don't cleverly update my Facebook status often. I don't upload all my photos to my wall. Of course, as many photos as I take, that would get mighty annoying to my friends pretty quickly.

But I have reconnected with several people. And I've learned quite a bit (not always the most relevant things, but interesting nonetheless).

You have just witnessed why I am probably not the best Facebook person: It takes me awhile to wind around to the point. I am not known for my short, pithy commentaries on life. Facebook status reports are best reported in a short and sweet manner.

And what, pray tell, does any of this have to do with tea towels?

I know it appears we have arrived at this destination without any connection whatsoever. But, believe it or not, there is a connection.

When I posted my blog about my bread baking disaster, one of my Facebook friends asked why we call tea towels "tea towels."

Good question, but I didn't know the answer. No longer do we run to the cabinet filled with Encyclopedia Britannicas like we had when I was growing up. Instead, we "Google" it.

The name "tea towel" originates from England in the early 19th century. The tea towel was the linen of choice for the ladies of Victorian England. They often personally used tea towels when caring for their tea ware to avoid anything being broken by a careless servant.

(No servants around here, careless or otherwise. I seem to do enough damage on my own, however.)

Tea towels were spread over a tea tray before tea things are put onto it to keep it clean or used to cover warm scones or a tea pot to prevent heat loss. Some people confuse the tea towel with the dish rag. However, a tea towel is kept spotlessly clean, because it is used on freshly washed dishes and as a cover for food.

Embroidered tea towels became popular during the Great Depression and World War II in the United States. During this era, fabric and other supplies were in short supply, so people recycled what they had. Tea towels were frequently made from the muslin sacks that flour came in. To decorate the plain towels, women embroidered them, usually with cute animals performing household chores or fruits and vegetables. Towels with the days of the week embroidered on them were also very popular.


A few weeks ago, my folks gave me some tea towels to give to Jill. They think they were embroidered by my Grandma Leonard, my dad's mom.

Grandma had embroidered them, but my Mom finished the edges.

These tea towels feature the days of the week.


I gave the tea towels to Jill when she and Eric were here a couple of weeks ago.

Here is Jill at about 3 months old with my Dad, Grandma Leonard and me.

I still use the tea towels my mom embroidered and gave to me for a wedding shower gift 29 years ago. But they aren't used for mundane tasks like drying my hands. Rather they are used to dry dishes (if I don't let dishes drip dry) or to cover my bowl when I'm letting bread dough rise.


Tea towels have always been a popular sale item at our church's fall bazaar. But I think most of the people who have been practicing the art of embroidery have passed on. I have a couple stashed in a closet, just in case.

I hope when Jill uses the tea towels her great-grandmother made, she'll feel that connection to the past. (And hopefully, she won't be too mad at me that I never taught her to embroider.)


 For more information about me and my family, check out my personal blog at www.kimscountyline.blogspot.com

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