Thursday, July 28, 2011

Kidnapping Bastiaan…. And Vanilla Bean Ice Cream…

Yep, I admit it!
I kidnapped my husband!

We don’t go out much. Our life pretty much evolves in and around the dairy. We don’t feel the need to go too far and away places, because when we were “young” (yes, this means in our teens and twenties) Bastiaan and I traveled the world. So now we are just happy to sit on our own couch in our own house enjoying each other’s company.

But sometimes you (well, I anyway) get this feeling and you just need to chance paces a bit to keep yourself and your relationship happy…

Soooo, I kidnapped my hubby!

Last year my sweetie turned 30 (such a young pup...)! And we needed to celebrate, but I am not very good at giving gifts and I am also ALWAYS forgetting his birthday day (yes I know, it is usually on the same date every year…) but somehow it always sneaks up on me! So to make up for all the years that I almost (or fully) forgot I planned a little get away trip.

He did not know ANYTHING! I just told him he needed to make sure to shower and shave and be ready at 11 am Thursday morning.

The night before I packed his favorite shirts and yeans, tossed some cologne and gel in a bag and put that with my girly girl stuff in the trunk of my car. At 11 am he was ready and was anxious to know where going…. Bastiaan is not very good with surprises or gifts; he just has this need to know what it is or what the surprise is…. But I was NOT going to tell him!

I had to be pretty crafty because after his shower and getting dressed, with me telling him “Sorry honey, that shirt of yours is still in the laundry basket…”, “Yeah I know it is been in there for over a week….”, “I’ll do it when we get back tonight…”. And sneaking back into the house, while he waited in the car, with a lousy excuse of having forgotten something, to get his toothbrush and shaving stuff, in two Walmart bags, so he couldn’t see what was in it... We finally got going.

No I didn’t need no handcuffs, and also I didn’t need a blindfold, but I had him in my car and I wasn’t gonna let him go!

After we drove for 4 hours he REALLY wanted to know where we were going. I told him, “surprise!” and kept driving. But of course I got a little hungry and he got a little grumpy after all this driving, so we pulled over at an exit close to Cincinnati. Bastiaan was all ready to hop out of the car and do some driving with race cars (that was what he thought we were going to do) but when we pulled into the parking lot of a Steak and Shake, he figured it out pretty quick! No racing cars, not today!

After we had a fabulous burger and a shake, YES some VANILLA BEAN (hehe), we hit the road again. And finally after driving a little over seven and a half hours we were there! By that time Bastiaan knew we weren’t going home that night, but he still did not know I booked us a Bed & Breakfast close to the Smokey Mountains and we were going to stay there for two nights. We ended up staying there for THREE nights, just us, our lovely hosts and some wonderful house guests. No phones, no TV, no computers and NO COWS! We did have long walks, amazing breakfasts and even more amazing desserts, some incredible views of the mountains and our own porch and Jacuzzi! It was fantastic!

And..., because of all of you, we made it into the final round of the Progressive Dairyman Ice Cream Face Off!!! AND because Bastiaan is going to be 31 this weekend and yes I am kidnapping him again today! But this time with his knowledge, I am gonna ask you ONE MORE TIME to please vote for Vanilla Bean! And I promise you, I will do my best to find the best ice cream place in DollyWood and eat some Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and let you know about it…. Well…. And if we won the contest of course!

A big THANK YOU SOOO MUCH to everybody who voted AND a big THANK YOU AND A BIG HUG for everybody who where brave enough to try my Ice Cream and multi colored Peppercorns recipe, and actually did LIKE it!

You guys are the best!!!


Monday, July 25, 2011


Sometimes I watch tv.
Sometimes I even watch tv without really looking.
Sometimes I watch TV and I think by myself, “Why on earth am I watching this???”

I used to love Grey’s Anatomy. Bastiaan and I would sit down on Thursday evenings and watch it together. When I got diagnosed and the months after, during chemo, Thursday was the best day. As in that was the one evening where I would be almost completely  “present” and without uncontrollably shaking or sweating, most of the times anyway... Normally Bastiaan likes other shows than I, but this was one of our “Let’s watch together shows” and try to forget about all the bad stuff going on in “real” life.

Until Izzy (one of the main characters of the show) got sick. Guess what she got???!!! Oh, was so mad.

She could have gotten ONE HUNDRED THOUSANDS kinds of cancer. But nope, she ended up with my kind, and that was besides the fact that she was almost the same age and blond too!!!

The ONE evening during the whole week were I would crawl into Bastiaan’s embrace and were we would try to forget for an hour about the fact that we had cancer and just moved to a new country…

They had her, get my cancer!
We stopped watching Grey’s that night.

Getting on chemo is not the hard part. Being on chemo is not too good as in really, really (here you can put your own curse words if you use them) NOT GOOD! But we were in for a real ride after we got OFF the chemo!

On my dad’s birthday, October 9th, 2009 after 64 weeks of chemo I got my last dose. It was a great day and we even had a cake to celebrate. All it wanted was a Big Mac, but the cake seemed more appropriate. In the following days I was under the impression that now that I was off the nasty stuff, life would go back to normal in a swiffy. A girl has to have hope, right?!

That first weekend I got a headache. But I still had some of those great pills from the doc so I could keep going, suppressing that headache. I wasn’t going to let a little headache going to ruin my fine “new” life after chemo!

The next day I still had a headache. I didn’t help that I already to 4 of those “special” pills were normally I would be happy as a pumpkin in a sunny pasture after a half of one of those pills…

BUT I was stubborn and we needed to go shopping, at Menards. After 6 pills and lots of begging, my dad took me home, but it became clear, that home wasn’t the best place to be at that moment. And after my mom, dad AND Bastiaan found out I had eaten my little stash of “special” pills it was time to go to the emergency room…

The Bluffton Emergency room wasn’t the best place either because after a CAT scan and a HUGE needle and syringe of some kind of pain reliever (in my buttocks!) they sent me home… and I was feeling like that fat happy pumpkin again!

The next day, the pain was back! FULL FORCE!!! We skipped the emergency room in Bluffton. We brought out the big guns and went to the big city emergency room! I am not sure but the doctors there were a bit puzzled too. After several scans, including CAT/PET and MRI’s they found nothing, but I was completely overcome by this terrible pain in my head. Finally they gave me a shot (and yes this was even worse than the buttocks shot the day before!) in my spine! I never had a shot in my spinal cord before, and let me tell you this IS NOT FUNNY!

What was even more disappointing was that the shot did not work. So as a last resort they finally gave me a little cocktail… they had checked out everything and anything and were still afraid to numb any symptoms and thus figuring out what was wrong, but they were even more worried about the pain that I was still having. And no that cocktail was not a stiff drink, but a cocktail of pain relievers, and yes some big names like valium and morphine drifted by. 5 minutes after I got that cocktail I wasn’t even a happy fat pumpkin anymore I was just… floating…

They kept me in the hospital for five days.

Three of those five days are a bit cloudy because of my “not to make at home” special cocktail. But the last two were pretty “good”. The oncologist told me that what probably happed was the withdrawal from all these weeks of chemo, had something to do with this headache of mine (I am not even sure if headache is the right word, but for a lack of better word…) Gradually things went better and during the day I would sleep and I had visitors who would come and cheer me up. In the evenings I would watch TV. Books were too much of a strain, but the TV would do the trick and take my mind of things.

I watched my first “after Izzy”, Grey’s Anatomy episode by myself in that hospital bed. The sweet girl was gone, I believe she survived her illness but they “cut” her out of the show by moving her to another town or something. I’m glad she didn’t die. And yes my mom told me when I was little that I shouldn’t believe everything I see on the ‘tellie’, but I was happy anyway. There were just too many resemblances and i thought if she can survive so can i....

When doctors tell you that you are sick, you are sick. Your brain tells you that you are sick and you need to get better. This is a given. When doctors tell you that you are better, your brain doesn't always tell you that you are better... Especially when you can not do all the things u used to do, or have the stamina you had before, or seeing the thirty plus scars on you body. Basically your brain and body are having withdrawals from cancer. And then there is the worry of getting sick again that sometimes  is sooo overpowering that you "forget" that you are actually well.

I found it MUCH harder to be "better" than to be "sick". I know this sounds strange, but i can't describe it any other way.

I do not know this body of mine anymore. And i defiantly do not know this brain. Whatever those drugs did to get rid of the cancer, they, also "messed" ME (as in I ) up. I tell myself not to worry, I'll find "ME" again. It just will be a little bit of a different ME that i was 4 years ago...


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Feeling hot hot HOT!

You know that song....
"Feeling hot hot hot..."
 It supposed to be a funny feel good summery song...

Our ladies (cows) don't think so!

Actually they are pretty disappointed that we (the humans) can't make this hot air that is going true the barn right now a little less hot.

Generally our ladies like it to be cool. Anywhere from 15 degrees Fahrenheit to 70 degrees Fahrenheit is fine with them. 95 Degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity of 85 percent does not make them happy cows.

We try to make our girls as comfortable as possible but with weather like this it is kinda hard and it gets a little depressing. I know that they have it better inside than if they would be standing outside in the FULL SUN! But still i feel bad that i can't do more. But let me tell you  what we DID do too keep our girls cool:

We have BIG fans. The fans hang over our cows and if the temperature gets above 72 degrees, they kick on automatically. This way nobody can forget to turn them on or off and so the ladies will be a little more pleased.  BUT because of this crazy weather about 3 weeks ago we decided to add more of those big fans. (Guess what we did last Saturday and Sunday...). We have 4 pens of 200 cows and those girls are our "high cows" this means that these ladies give the most milk on the whole farm.  And these girls deserve some extra attention, so we installed 5 more fans in each pen. Also our "Close Up cows" this is the pen where the girls are who are gonna have a baby calf within 3 weeks, we put 5 more fans. We wanted to make these soon to be momma's as comfortable as possible, after all giving birth is hard enough if everything goes right, right???

We also have sprinklers. Yep, sprinklers are those things that make you feel like if you are on the beach!

If you are HOT, and your on the beach (or in your back yard) you will jump in the water and cool off. When you are cool enough you get out of the water, lay on your towel or stretcher until you get hot again so you jump in the water again. This is the same thing as what we tried to to for our cows. When they get into the "holding pen" this is the area before they are getting milked, the are closer together as in their walk/sleep/play area and the closer you are together the hotter you get. Since we don't want our girls hot, we installed sprinklers. Every 6 minutes they turn on for 3 minutes. So it's like the beach! We cool them down, and when they warm up again, we cool them down again. Generally the ladies are in and out of the holding pen and milking parlor (where they getting milked) within 45 minutes. We try to keep this time as short as possible, every girl needs her space!

Also we spray for flies! You might think, "What does this have to do with the heat?", but it is a LOT! Because of all these girls we also have quite a bit of poo. Flies just like poo. Well, and cows. And all kinds of other animals. So in the summer, like everybody else we get flies, but because our farm is a bit bigger, we are abt to have more flies. And i don't know if you noticed but lately those flies are getting MEAN! They bite! They don't bite just us, but they also bite our cows! And of course we can't have that! So two or three times a week my brother will drive with the tractor in and around all the barns and spray for flies. Last year we tried to do it with predator flies (so no chemicals) but that did not work very well. And once a week we will put a little fly control spray on our cows, so not only the living quarters of our ladies are fly free they also can't lay there nasty little eggs on our girls either! Because of all this fly control we have less flies with 2200 cows than at our own house with one horse, one baby calf and a dog and 2 cats!  Which of course makes our girls feel pretty special and at least a little less grumpy in this "horrible" weather... hehe...

So if you have that song "Feeling hot hot hot" stuck in your head for the rest of the day (yes, you can listened to it because of the linky thing and blame me!) while eating your ice cream or drinking your milk i hope you think about our girls and the girls at another farmers ranch or farm close to you, and pray for some cooler weather! Just a insy tinsy little bit....

Thank you!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Car on Fire!?!

Some women do know the difference between a car on fire and a car overheated...


On a beautiful sunny afternoon, i drove home from work. I worked at a dairy about 45 minutes from where we were building our own dairy and because i wanted some experience i worked there with the cows as a herdsman (well, herds woman in my case)...

As i said the weather was beautiful, i had my window rolled down because my fancy smansy car didn't have air conditioning and i was puffing (yes, as in smoking) along and enjoying every single bit of the American landscape and my Dutch techno music.

All of a sudden i see this smoke stuff coming out from between my two front seats.... "Hmmm, that is not like it supposed to be..."

Ok, so here we have to do a little track back into the past to understand this whole thing a little bit better.

The car wasn't in it's best shape anymore. Me and my sweet aunt Wendy bought it 4 years before for a good price (as in cheap). It was a decent car and i only needed it for whenever me or my brother would be in the United States, so we could drive around and go and see things or work at places without being depended on somebody all the time. If we were not here, the car would be parked at my aunt's house. When in 2006 we finally moved to the United States, this car was running non stop, and really maybe that was a little to much for it.

Anyway, my sweet friend Johan came over to bring us a little visit, he had been in Wisconsin to study and had some time left and he didn't mind looking at my car. The last couple of weeks i had trouble starting the thing and i thought if Johan looks at it and maybe fixes it up a bit, we can run it another 4 years until i get my BMW!

Johan did "look" at it, he also "fixed" it. By building a little switch in between the two front seats. It was a little choke, so if i started my car it would get a little extra gas so instead of dying on me every time it would start up good. In theory this was a fine solution...

 Now we go back to that sunny afternoon about a mile and a half from home.

I see all this smoke and i think, "This is not good!" I toss my cigarette out of the window (Yes, very bad behavior i know but i was in  little bit of a pickle here), turn the music down and STARE at the smoke! "This is not good at all!" I stop the car grab my bag, my car papers, my drivers licence (Dutch drivers license....) And throw everything outside!

Of course we live in RURAL Indiana so there are not so many houses and while I'm standing besides my car i call our crop farmer. "Hi, euhhmm, i think my car is on fire...". "Oh,  what does it do?" "Well there is smoke coming out." "You sure it is on fire???" "Well, yes I'm pretty sure...." Our crop farmer did not really believe me. He kept telling me that it was just overheating and that i should stay calm. I was besides the point of staying calm so i pretty much yelled at him (so much for being nice to somebody who is supposedly coming to save you) to come get me AND bring a fire extinguisher!

Because i needed to do something, i run over to the "closest" house to see if they had any water, and maybe a bucket so i could dump some of that water in my car. And in the meantime i was speed dialing my mom, dad and brother and of course NOBODY would answer the phone (happens all the time when your really, really need somebody quick)! What i didn't know was that they were busy in the yard and didn't hear the phone...

So i called the crop farmers mother instead. She said she was watching the grand kids but would come over with a fire extinguisher and see if she could help...

I RUN back to my car WITHOUT any water. Of course my luck to find a house with NO WATER OR A BUCKET what so ever on the outside of the house.... Actually maybe it did have a hydrant or such but i was just to much in 'panic mode' to see, let alone find it! When i got back to my car, the car was filled with black smoke. You could not see true one window and out the other one. The black smoke was everywhere.

The crop farmer arrives, jumps out of his car and yells at me (while laughing!) "JEHZZZ Leo, your car REALLY is on fire!?!" "Yep, i told you so....."

And no, the little itty bitty fire extinguisher that he brought didn't do the trick, nor did the little bigger fire extinguisher that his mom brought. She also brought the kids, who thought this was AWESOME and she flagged down my mom, brother and dad from the garden and took them too.

We called 911...

The police, the fire department, the sheriff  and the ambulance came out. But we just let it burn, because by the time they arrived all four tires had popped, and there was just not much left anymore of my decent ugly brown car.

A week later my sweet friend John got me his red cabriolet for me to use while i was looking for a new car. It was a spunky little car and i had lot's of fun driving it! What was even more fun was that not much later i spotted my little red BMW. I had told everybody, first the cows and then the car, but well.... Let's just say there was a change of plans!

We never found out if it was the little choke thingy that did it, but something went wrong...
For Sure...

I did take pictures with my old Dutch phone, but i can't get them onto a computer. They really are 'awesome' pics though! And next time i ever have to call our crop farmer and tell him my car is on fire, i really think he's gonna bring the biggest fire extinguisher he's got...


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ice Cream and Multi Colored Peppercorns!

If you look at those great chefs on television, they sometimes mix things together and in your head it just doesn’t make ANY sense…

Well, this is a post AND a recipe about Ice Cream that just does not makes sense! But the food  (Ice Cream) will taste as if a little angel pied over your tongue…. (Yes, this is a Dutch quote but somehow it doesn’t sound as good in English as it does in Dutch…but i like it anyway)!

A couple of weeks ago I promised you another Ice Cream story if we would make it into round 3 of the Progressive Dairyman Flavor Face off 2011!!! Sooooo, guess what!?! We made it into round 3, and a promise is a promise so here is the story!

When I was about 20 years old, after working at several jobs in agriculture I decided that it was time to do something different. My school was taking up a lot of time and so I tried to find a job in the weekends and in the evenings. My little sister worked at a restaurant/party place/cafe/bar a couple of towns over and she had to change jobs because of her school. Because of her change of plans, I had the opportunity to take over her job. And so I became a waitress/bartender/ amateur cook (sounds pretty good, right?!)/ kitchen help…

The Viersprong (the restaurant’s name) was a the most perfect workplace I could of asked for. Being a waitress in Holland is a little different then here in the US or Canada. They don’t pay minimum wage, you get full pay but the waitresses don’t get tips in Holland. Also another HUGE difference is, there are NOT so many waitresses. Truly sometimes I just wonder why on earth there are some many waitresses in a single restaurant. We had to take care of 50 people all by ourselves and in the same time they do here! But this could be a great subject for one of our “Crazy Americans” series…

I would work there every Saturday and Sunday and at days that I didn’t have to go to school. I had the best coworkers you can think of and Gerard & Lieke (the bosses) were fantastic teachers! On how to deal with customers, on how to plan your day or hour as efficient as possible. On how too never walk or do more than necessary to get the job done as best as you possible could and how to look… As in REALLY look!

Before I worked at The Viersprong my mom would tell me to go into our basement and find something like a can of beans, and I could not find it! No matter how long, how hard or how good i checked every inch of the basement (and my mom had the best basement ever! Clean, good light and super organized!)! After some good lessons on LOOKING from Gerard and some extra lessons from my mom, I never have troubles anymore in finding things! I also learned to think and plan ahead. This is something that I am still grateful for everyday, because I use that a lot now that we have 21 employees ourselves at the dairy!

While working at the restaurant Lieke and Gerard started to make their own Ice Cream desserts. I was all “soft ijs” (the kind of Ice Cream that you get at Mc Donalds in a cone, “yes the soft, oh so good, yummy stuff!!!” With different kind of fruits, liquors (yes booze!), whipped cream, chocolate or other goodies! And people just loved them!

So for this special post I’m gonna give you a special taste of my home country and you can try it out. Of course AFTER you have voted for Vanilla Bean on the Progressive Dairyman Website…. Hehe…

Drive to the closest liquor store and get yourself a nice, little, bottle of Anisette… Then you hop over to Walmart, Krogers, or your local grocery store or farmers market and get some lovely strawberries. I assume you have some pepper in your house at all times but if not, grab some red/black and white pepper powder. Or just get the little "balls" and grind it in your pepper mill later. And last but not least you have to go to Mickey D’s and get yourself a large bowl of the soft Ice-cream, you can toss the cones! Maybe you have to take a cooler, because otherwise it melts before you get home being as hot as it is!

Ok, so when you are home you have, for 2 people:
- Ice cream
- Strawberries 4 or 5 per person depending on the size!
- Pepper
- Anisette

And yes if you want to fancy it up you can even get some heavy whipping cream to put on top of your Ice Cream.... But you need to do the whipping yourself no fake stuff here!

The steps of making a fabulous bowl of Ice Cream:
You divide the ice cream over 2 large bowls, cut the strawberries and divide them over the two bowls. Sprinkle a little bit of the Anisette over the Ice Cream and strawberries. Don’t throw a bus load over it, just a little to bring out the flavors. And then you grind some of the pepper over your bowl. Again not too much but enough to actual taste the pepper but it can’t be overpowering!

I know it sounds strange, Ice Cream, pepper, strawberries and LIQUOR but trust me it works! If you forget the liquor or the pepper it is not the same (and all of this coming from a NON alcoholic person, so it must be AWESOME) and yes it really, really is something GREAT!!!

I hope you give it a try and tell me if it was as good for you as it was for all those crazy Dutchies! And please, please, pretty please vote for Vanilla Bean in the Flavor Face Off!

If you want to see Gerard and Lieke’s gorgeous restaurant you can click on this link: The Viersprong, in Dutch but with great pictures (like the ones above!), or their BEAUTIFUL "Pluk de dag" (Seize the Day) website, yes this one is in English!!!

Have a wonderful rest of the week and THANK YOU for voting!!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Crazy Americans! Smoking like a Chimney

Oh how I loved smoking!

If I could smoke just ONE cigarette whenever I would feel blue (as in extremely stressed) and then quit smoking again, I would do it in a heartbeat! Hmmmmm, maybe not.....

I used to smoke... a lot.

I started this nasty habit when I was 16 years old. Yes, the age where you think you are invincible and you can take on the whole world. My friends were smoking and in The Netherlands there was no official law that you couldn’t, besides it wasn’t that hard to get cigarettes. It started with a couple of cigarettes a week. Mostly when we would go to a bar or a club, or after school in the school yard, hanging out with my girlies on our bicycles.

But soon, it got more and more. Life wasn’t easy (as for any teenager) and so when I was studying Agricultural Economics I was up to 1.5 packs of cigarettes a day. Yep, I did not drink but I did smoke A LOT!

That all changed on the first day of chemo. I figured I might as well quit the bad habit (read NASTY addiction to nicotine) while starting a much MUCH more harmful chemical “medicine” that would mess up my whole insides anyway. I thought of it as, “Well better stop with the smoking while they are pumping all this other stuff in my body. I can’t handle both!”

Of course that was just though talk! It isn’t as easy as it seems to quit a 13 year old habit/addiction that easily. Good thing was I had my chemo working for me!

Because of the side effects the Interferon had, smoking was ABSOLUTELY impossible! The first day after we started I could not even smoke half a cigarette without running (as in crawling, I didn’t have the energy) to the bathroom and throw up! Trust me; if you have to throw up every time you light up a smoke, you will STOP SMOKING, FAST!

But now you might be thinking what does all of this have to do with this week’s “Crazy Americans”? Well, actually a lot! Because as a former smoker I always look, see, find people who smoke. It is like a second nature. If I see somebody smoking, anywhere/anytime my sub consciousness automatically registers it!

And I must say living in America was not what I had expected it to be as far as being a smoker goes!

All over the world you used to see those amazing appealing commercials, big signs, in magazines of those though cowboys with a cigarette. Well in the “real America” that I have come to love, there is NO such thing as what those advertisements promise. You are not allowed to smoke in a club/pub/bar. You are not allowed to smoke in a restaurant and your are not allowed to smoke in any public building. And don’t get me wrong, I think this is good/fantastic for us human beings, but it is kinda disappointing as a smoker coming into this country!

Now to get to the root of my “Crazy Americans” post. Why is it that woman and normally I ONLY see WOMEN smoke while driving their cars???

YEP, it is the ladies that I see… everywhere!

Driving too town, driving too another state, driving around just to drive my car. I see ladies, girls (cause yes you can drive a car here at SIXTEEN!!!), older women, girlfriends and grandma’s behind the wheel, smoking like a chimney! What is up with that!? Maybe it is something that women do in the Midwest but I have no idea why? I don’t see them smoking on the street and of course I don’t see them smoking at home cause I don’t know them, but why???

Maybe it is much more fun driving and smoking in the own comfort of your car, or maybe they are not allowed to smoke at home, they sure are not allowed to smoke anywhere else so the car is the best option…? I don’t think so…. Smoking and driving isn’t the safest thing to do….

BUT as a former smoker and relatively new to America (Indiana) seeing women smoke whenever they drive their cars just makes me wonder. Is it something they grew up with or is it something new because society doesn’t allow them (the smoker) anywhere else anymore?

Do you see ladies smoke behind the wheel, or do you see as many guys as girls smoke while driving? Or haven’t your noticed this “smoking trend” at all and is it just me being "crazy"?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

New friends on the other side of the fence

With new territory comes new friends, right???

Last year i wrote a post about How a Girl gets a Horse and i am HAPPY to say, my Fox Trim Classic is now 27 years old and alive and kicking!

And by kicking i mean: KICKING, showing of his manly hood, making lots and lots of noise and pretty much acting like a 5 year old, i just discovered myself, stallion!

A couple of months ago, my dad got 1.5 horse. Yes, 1.5 horse because one is really big and the other one is a really little little Shetland pony. And thus.... 1.5 horse...

My mom and dad have a nice old barn besides their house and we build some stalls. We also got them a pasture. Nothing fancy but nice, underneath the trees, and we thought it would be sufficient for them. The first 2 months those horses could not go outside... It rained and rained and rained.... But  finally after 2 months they did and oh, they were some happy horses.

All this time Classic would sneak peeks to my mom and dad's place to see what was going on. The problem was they were a little to far away for him to get to know them a little bit better plus i don't think he sees really well long distances (being old and all) so "making new friends" wasn't an option, yet...

But that all changed last week. Because of the weather and the location of  the pasture the grass is not growing as well as it should. And Classic has TONS and TONS of grass. His pasture is a bit bigger and no trees. (Yes some people call it spoiled)...

Soo, last week dad and i decided to move his 1.5 horse to Classics pasture, so half of the pasture could be used for them and the other half for Classic (Yes, there has to be a boss...). With of course a 10 foot barrier in between so Classic wouldn't jump in with Magic and Raisin (and yes Raisin would be the tiny one) and cause all sorts of trouble...

But making new friends is really really hard.

And i mean REALLY HARD! Because of the task we have given ourselves by starting our own large family farm and with me getting sick and going true chemo for almost 64 weeks there wasn't much time to make a lot of new friends. So seeing my super stud trying to make new friends is like, "Oh, I'm not the only one who has troubles doing this...".

In Holland i was blessed with good friends. Friends that have grown with me into the persons that we are now, friends who came later in life and which i experienced good, not so good and bad things with and friends that are friends for life.

BUT... I am here now. And they are there...

And telling your friends what you do in a new country with a different mentality with different customs and different views on life, just doesn't cut it all the time. Plus their lives go on too. They have new jobs, new adventures, get married, have cute little babies and i have no idea about what it is they are doing all day, every day... And that makes me miss them even more. Don't get me wrong, i don't want to go back to The Netherlands... i just wish they were here...

I think we, as in Classic and his new buddies and me, will be fine given time.

There are soo many nice, sweet, talented, good, friendly, smart, open minded people here, so it is only a matter of time before i meet some more of them. Because yes, i too have met some really fantastic people already, but friendships need to grow and i can't expect that all the friendships i had in Holland, build up over 28 years, are gonna be here at my doorsteps right NOW. Although i sure would want that! And i am a very impatient girl! So every second here in this beautiful country is another second in which i miss my friends back "home".

But i have good hope, and i have time... What more can a girl wish for...

And as far as my super stud goes... i checked him again just now. He's grazing happily on one side of the fence and Magic and Raisin on the other side looking at each other, sniffing the air and act dumb... I think they'll be all right!


Monday, July 4, 2011

Living my American Dream!

Imagine a little blond girl, on her little pony with red wheels, cruising thru the kitchen. A strange man comes in and tells her about a spider.She has NO clue what he is talking about because she is Dutch…and Dutch people do not speak English. But she just KNOWS it is a scary thing, a big problem! "Spider" was the very first word she learned in the English language, and there were more to come...

Couple of years later when this little blond girl turned into a taller, skinny blond girl that man showed up again in the kitchen. He turned out to be her dad’s younger brother, and tells her about America…. About the endless roads, the proud mentality, the friendliness of the people, the green pastures and the horses he loves so much.

This blond girl knows what she wants, (read this as: she’s incredibly stubborn and hard headed), and she decided to go to the land of endless possibilities and discover it for herself. And she did, after three months
spending time on her aunt and uncle’s horse farm in Michigan; she came home to the Netherlands and told her mom and dad, “When I grow up I’m going to move to The States!!!

She went to high school, focusing on horses and cows. Went to College, focusing again on horses and cows and finally to University to study Agricultural Economics and to get her teaching degree. She visited America as much as she could during school breaks. Also during this time she worked to get the right papers so she would have a better shot at being able to come to this great country. Her mom was terribly sick, which made it very hard for her dad to run the family operated hog farm and to raise three “little” kids. The family held it together as good as they could but because of the “Swine Fever,” that went all through Europe in 1997, and which ended pig farming for her dad.

Her dad always dreamed of having a dairy farm. When he was a young man himself he wanted to milk cows, but after meeting and marrying her mom they took over the homestead. Her mom just loved her family so she said she would go where ever it would make them happy. Her brother also was very fond of milking cows and everything that had to do with agriculture. He followed his big sister and went to the U.S. to do some practical training sessions for College. The youngest sister in this story didn’t like America at ALL! Even the idea of visiting was outrageous no matter what kind of fairytale stories her big sister would tell…

But in 2003 after the blond girl graduated from University, madly in love with this boy from the northern part of the country, and who she told on the first date: “you better believe it, I’m moving to the States when I got my degree, even if you come or not!” The family and the handsome young man made the decision to sign
some papers with a well known Dutch/American organization, to move to the land where they would live their American dream and milk some cows!

Arghhhh, try to get into this country!!!!

It’s grueling!!! After several years (yes, YEARS) of trying to sell the farmstead, visa denials, moving from one friends to another with only the clothes on your back (because the container with the rest of you belongings is already packed and on a ship). And finally visa approvals, saying goodbye to friends, and the emotional rollercoaster that you are not a resident of you birth land any longer but not quite a resident in the other new land either.

We entered the United States of America on February the 14th of 2006, with our visas and hopes for a better and new future. Except for the younger sister and her boyfriend (of 12 years), they decided to stay in The Netherlands. But they did change their minds about visiting often and America!!!

Construction of the dairy started in November 2006 and on the 20th of November 2007 we milked our first cow, and oh my gosh, IT WAS INCREDIBLE!!! All the planning, hiring people, construction problems, start up problems, documents that needed signed, restrictions, Indiana Department of Environmental Management visits, convincing the public: we are NOT big corporation monsters, just a family who loves being here, was more than worth it!!!

We are truly BLESSED to milk 2200 cows and we love every single day of it!

I have grown up quite a bit. I love my family, friends and all the other people I know very much. I have learned problems are not problems, they are just challenges that you need to overcome. Without learning the word “spin” in English (spider), I would never have had the opportunity to live my American Dream.

Happy Fourth of July!!!
I hope you have a great day!!!


Friday, July 1, 2011

My bucket full of lists

I used to have a Bucket List…
- Go to Montana
- Fly an airplane
- Be a pop star
- Have 500 alpaca’s

When we moved to the United States my one and only top priority “thing to do” on my list got a check mark behind it. I am living my American Dream!

But then I got sick, and my whole bucket list got twisted around. So now I don’t really have a bucket list anymore, because the one and only thing on there now is to NOT EVER get sick AGAIN!

That doesn’t mean I don’t have a LOT of little LISTS in a BUCKET!

As you might know we have a large dairy. We run our dairy will all the family members and we have 21 employees. My job on the farm is to keep all the employees happy and taken care of them and to do the bookkeeping. A day in my life consists of little lists. Usually in the form of a “post it” with little memo’s to myself. Those lists consist of the following things almost every day…

- Employees: The boys and girls work in three shifts, 5 people in a shift. Normally when I get to the farm I check if everybody is present and if there is anything they need or want. Then I go to our herdsman (cow expert) Colby and is assistant Adan. They are like a well oiled machine and they don’t really need help from me, but as the “boss” you got to know what is going on!

- LADIES: How are our ladies doing? Because we have so many it is very hard to look at every individual cow like you would do on a smaller farm. To make sure we don’t miss anything all our gals have an ankle bracelet. This bracelet records how much she walks, how much milk she gives and what the salt content is of the milk she is giving, three times a day. The computer will save all the info for 10 days. If one cow has a “off” day, she will show up automatically on (Colby’s list) but also on mine. And with these 3 bits of info, he (Colby and me too) knows if she is doing ok or if we need to see her, and give her some extra attention.

- Checks: As the bookkeeper at our dairy I am in charge of all the money traffic. This can be incredible stressful but also a lot of fun (when things go well).
- DFA website: On the website of our milk coop I can see how much milk all our ladies produce the day before and what our quality is. At our Four Leaf Clover Dairy we strive to the best quality we can produce. Every day we get quality results from our milk cooperation, so if there would be an issue with the temperature or quality of the milk we can make sure that it gets corrected really fast.

- Bastiaan, Mom, Dad and Jan Willem: WHAT is everybody doing and HOW is everybody doing. And what do I have on some other lists that includes them???
- Yesterday: what was on my list yesterday and I didn’t get to…

Sometimes I feel like a traffic controller, making sure everybody and everything moves in the right direction at the right time. After a full day of organizing and delegating I come home to our sweet Jones and my Super Stud Classic and unwind. Sometimes my little bucket doesn’t get empty at all that day and there will be no unwinding. The good thing is, tomorrow is a new day so we’ll have new chances to reach that little buckets bottom...

Do you have a bucket list or do you have a bucket full of lists?

If you don’t have a bucket I can tell you THIS is the best place to find your very own bucket!
You might want to check out the Red Hill General Store and/or hop over to the Real Farmwives of America & Friends they have a giveaway and one lucky reader will win his or her very own Galvanized Embossed Tub!!!

I know I know, you can start right now; writing down your very own lists and than by the time you won the bucket, you can fill it up and then start emptying it out doing all the things you need to do or do the things you WANT to do!!!

Disclaimer. While Red Hill General Store did provide me with a bucket to blog about for this post the pictures, ideas and opinions shared here are my own.