Hill and Valley Exploration Tour coming here!

Two autumn weekends to explore farm traditions. Area farms open their doors to welcome you, and experience farm living first hand! 

Grab your mud boots and the cooler. Throw the rain gear and an extra sweater in the trunk. Prepare for some good ole, country-style fun – rain or shine. With over sixty events and activities at 14 different venues on the Hill and Valley Exploration Tour, there is something for everyone.

Learn how to shear sheep, harvest honey, groom a show calf, warp a loom, can chutney, buck rivet an airstream, and make wine to name just a few activities on the Hill and Valley Exploration Tour. Along the way, you can fill your cooler with fresh veggies, jellies and preserves, and quality meat purchased directly from the producer at their farm or at our farmers’ market, and shop for vintage goodies.

Find your lunch at the farm-to-fork restaurant on the tour or support one of the local farmers, church groups, or youth groups offering picnic-style food options. For adults, we have evening beer and cheese pairings, wine and cheese pairings, and drawing classes. And to finish off the tour, for the whole family, a barn dance with live music and wood-fired oven pizza! The Hill and Valley Exploration Tour is a celebration of rural living! Learn more at our website: www.explorehillandvalley.com

We will be hosting Fall Color Hayrides Sat & Sun Oct. 7 & 8 at 1 & 3 PM suggested cost $10 /adult or $25/ family with children. Learn canning techniques on Sun Oct. 8 10 AM Canning Chutneys - $20/ person  Add layers of flavor with piquant and spicy condiments, made special with your own produce and by your own hands. We will explore chutneys with hands on learning to can these home preserved condiments to take home. Meet the "girls" on Sat. Oct. 14 with Coffee & Chores - Morning farm chores with conversation and light brunch — Join Dorothy and Don Harms for morning feeding chores on their family dairy farm — hands on bottle calf feeding for kids. Are you curious about a farmer’s job producing milk and meat for the public? Farmer Don is willing to share his lifetime of farming experience with you. (ticketed — cost $15/adult, $7/child under 13)

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Free Farm Weekend Complete! ... and Springtime on the Farm

We have just finished our 1st annual Free Farm weekend. A daughter surprised her mother for Mothers Day and her birthday with our work weekend to make a memorable time together. Her comments say it all, "We thoroughly enjoyed getting 'down and dirty' on the farm during our stay. It was such a great bonding time for my mother and I. The little projects that you had come up with for us to do, was a perfect combination of what dairy farmers go through.... We appreciate all that you do. - God bless, Nicole & Sandy." It was alot of fun and we plan to do it again next year.

This springtime brings new life in green pastures, colorful flowers, and animal babies. To date 3 beef calves have been born (hope to share pictures soon) and we have a geese family with 7 goslings residing on the pond. Each new day brings a reason to appreciate life on the farm.

Free Farm Weekends

Just as we were getting ready for Spring, Mother Nature let us know she is still in charge and that winter is not quite done yet! Though, we are beginning to think about springtime and all the busyness that goes with planting and getting the B & B ready for a busy season. With that in mind, we want to offer our 1st annual "Free Farm" weekends during the first two weekends in May. Have you ever thought "I'd sure like to work on the farm" -even if it's just for a weekend? Well we have enough chores that we would like to share- and we are willing to let you stay for FREE to help out! That's right - FREE! Knowing that milking cows is not everybody's thing -we have a variety of chores most anybody can do. Planting flowers, spreading mulch, painting a shed, trimming the hiking trail, and picking stones from the fields - just to name a few. Tasks range from very simple to challenging and you get to decide what level you are capable of.   If you are considering this, feel free to email or call with questions

Included in your Fri - Sun stay is breakfast for each morning and a Saturday work day lunch. It won't be all work - lawn games and a bonfire - are in the plans to make it a fun weekend too!

So all you "wanna be" farmers - here's your chance. May 5-7 or May 12-14. Choose to stay the whole weekend or just part of it.   Arrive 2 pm or after on Friday and all will be ended by 2:30 pm on Sunday.  Be sure to mention the words "FREE FARM" when you contact us for reservations

My new "favorite" go-to breakfast entree

When I get a new breakfast recipe I "really" love, it becomes a frequently served item. So I just wanted to share this recipe with you. To be sure I am making it with farm fresh eggs from my daughter's chickens.

HAM AND EGG CUPS

Prep: 20 minutes -- Bake 18 minutes at 350F -- Stand 3 minutes

8 thin slices deli-style cooked ham

1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

8 eggs

Ground black pepper

8 tsp. basil pesto (recipe says optional - I would say "definitely")

8 cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved

Preheat oven to 350F. Coat eight 2 1/2 inch muffin cups with cooking spray. Gently press a ham slice into each prepared muffin cup, carefully ruffling edges of the ham. Divide cheese among the ham-lined cups. Break an egg into a measuring cup, and slip egg into a muffin cup. Repeat with the remaining eggs. Sprinkle with pepper. Spoon 1 tsp. pesto onto each egg. Top with tomato halves. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until whites are completely set and yolks are thickened. Let stand in muffin cups for 3 to 5 minutes before serving. Carefully remove egg cups from muffin cups. Makes 8 cups.

 

 

Come Enjoy all Fall Offers!

Any direction you choose there is a community event happening this next few weeks. Fermentation Fest and the Farm Art Dtour take center stage as a celebration of the arts, local food, and farming. We are just minutes away from the self guided Farm Art Dtour showcasing art installations, local food vendors, and breathtaking country views. This will be running Oct. 1-9. Plain WI is hosting it's very own Plainfest on Oct. 1 as well. Richland Center is host to Colorfest with food, fun and festival. The weekend of Oct. 8 is Baraboo's turn with Art Faire on the Square. The 3rd weekend of October features the Fall Art Tour opening up artists' galleries from Mineral Point to Baraboo for your pleasure. I can't forget that it is APPLE TIME - and thatmeans Oakwood Fruit Farm near Richland Center and Ski-HI Orchards by Baraboo offer bushels of apples, cider, donuts & pies. Treinten Farm near Mauston and Leatherberry Farms between Wisc. Dells & Baraboo open up for corn maze fun, pumpkins and everything to do with harvest time.

I know I don't have everything listed but there is something for everyone to enjoy all Fall offers!

Just a sample of my Fall colors!

Just a sample of my Fall colors!

Busy days on the farm

Seems like there are never enough hours this time of year - the garden bounty is overflowing, the weeds keep on growing, and yes, the bed & breakfast is busy! It is all good. It continues to give Don & me pleasure hosting the guests from far & near - to see a 1500 lb. cow up close, to bottle a little calf, and to gain a little appreciation for the work & passion that goes into farming. Passion is what drives us to spend long days to finish the hay crop, to be sure every cow is well cared for & fed (before we get our breakfast or supper) -even though the milk price hardly makes it worth all the work. As we head into a continued busy harvest season, we look forward to the fresh perspective that our guests bring to the farm life that we live.

Taking care of newborn twin calves.

Taking care of newborn twin calves.

4 little kitties

Grandma's letting me post her blog.

Just look at these new cuties! Well 3 months old. I'll tell their names: Puff, Magic, angel, and Socks. They are tame, so you might get a chance to see and pet them on your B&B stay! Puff is a love bug, Angel can be shy but will come around, Magic is happy with almost everyone and plays with other kitties a lot, and Socks, he's a hide 'n' seek player and loves play-fighting with Puff.

Spring time is coming...

The sights and sounds of springtime on farm have arrived. Sand hill cranes have returned to live in our cattle pastures. Geese are visiting the pond on their way back home. Crocus are just peeking through and dafodils are shooting up their leaves. Even the frogs have been heard singing from the creek!

But there are patches of snow lingering on - especially the view from the south end of our dairy barn. My father in law always said to expect one more snowfall until that last snow patch facing the north disappeared.  So for now we trudge through the mud until the warm spring rains firm up the ground. And although we enjoy the warm sunny days we have had, we know winter likely is not entirely gone just yet!

February is for LOVERS!

February is extra special since it is Leap Year so to celebrate we are offering a 1% LOVERS discount for each year you have been together off of our reservation price (maximum 50 years) for a stay during the month of February. We aim to make it special with homemade chocolate truffles and fresh flowers for you & your sweetheart. Be sure to mention the word "LOVERS" when you book your reservation.


A New Year's Eve Surprise!

Farming is always about the risks you take every day. When our vet diagnosed our cow, Jersey, with triplets, she did not advise to continue the pregnancy. It usually doesn't end well, she said. But Farmer Don decided it was worth the risk. Jersey completed her lactation and was dried off from milking to await the arrival of her babies. She was due Jan. 14, 2016 but started in labor Dec. 31, 2015. With all his years of experience, Farmer Don knew he would have to assist with the birth. One....two....three! They came into the world one right after the other. She was bred with a red angus bull so they looked a lot like their "daddy". We figured the crossbred vigor of the angus breeding would be in their favor to keep them alive. Unfortunately, the vet was right about their momma - she stopped eating after day 2 and the decision was made to ship her for slaughter because of her age (she was 8 years old).

So these past 3 weeks we have kept them in the dairy barn and bottle fed them morning and night. It has been frigid cold the past 2 weeks so it was important to not let them be exposed to any setbacks. Their names - Jane, Jezabel, and Jethro - have thrived and are now ready to be moved to the outside calf barn. We let them play together in this little video to share with you.

Surprise visitor!

This week Don came in all excited to get me to come out & see what was on our front lawn. It was a HUGE snapper turtle! It had made it way from  the pond, crossed the highway and was making it's way to our house. That is a long ways for a turtle to walk. It also looked like it was getting dehydrated so we knew it had to get back to the pond & creek. Don carefully picked it up with a hay fork and put it on the front loader of his John Deere tractor to give it a ride back. He kept it tipped up so the turtle couldn't fall out. So as the picture shows back Mr. Turtle went to be where he belonged. It was a busy day for Farmer Don but a kind-hearted guy like him would take time to care for a turtle. It's just what we do...

Healthy Quinoa Breakfast Parfait

I have been looking to include more "healthy" grains in my breakfast menu and came across this recipe. Quinoa is a "curious" grain to me - its name alone is so different that it begs me to explore its possibilities. It provides a nutty texture to the tastebuds and adds fiber to one's diet. The recommendation for this is to prepare the night before for a quick breakfast go-to. Or you can make it in a 1/2 pint jelly jar and take along for your breakfast on the go.

Quinoa Breakfast Parfait

Makes 4 servings

1/2 cup quinoa

1 cup water

1/2 cup chopped dried pitted cherries

2 (5.3 oz) cartons fat-free black cherry Greek yogurt

1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Rinse quinoa in a fine sieve; drain. Cook quinoa in water in a small saucepan according to package directions. When done and water is absorbed, stir in cherries. Cover, remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.

Spoon quinoa cherry mixture evenly into 4 (8-ounce) parfait glasses or straight-sided glasses. Spoon yogurt evenly over the quinoa. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve, sprinkle with almonds.

cooking tip: toasting intensifies the flavor of the almonds. To toast, spread almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-7 minutes or until lightly toasted. Watch carefully so they do not burn.

Quinoa meets Greek yogurt in healthy parfait.

Quinoa meets Greek yogurt in healthy parfait.

Winter Time on the Farm

Finally I have time to reflect and write on the blog. The last few weeks it has snowed enough to blanket the farm fields and create the winter beauty I enjoy. Winter days on the farm mean a different routine from summer time. No green pastures for heifers to graze = more feeding chores for the farmer, especially since cattle eat more to keep warm on the cold days. The milking cows still need to be milked and fed twice daily. And since those cattle eat more, they **** more and yards need to be cleaned and hauled to the fields more often. Clean bedding is brought in to keep all of them clean and warm. And oh yes when it snows, that snow needs to be plowed away so we can drive to feed the cattle and the milk truck can daily pick up our milk. So winter days keep Farmer Don busy.

Yet we appreciate the beauty and artistry Mother Nature provides with rolling hills and fields covered in white as the backdrop. The bright whiteness dresses up the otherwise drab landscape of leafless trees and brown stubble. Resident wildlife (deer and turkeys) are seen foraging in the woods and fields. The animal footprints that I find in the snow are special treasures for me - tiny birds prints, cat track snows, or deer paths across fields - all are artistic wonders. It begs for visitors to explore on snowshoes all the wonders winter has to offer. 

Snow "blankets" our fields protecting them from the bitter cold.

Snow "blankets" our fields protecting them from the bitter cold.

Our "gateway" for snowshoe adventures!

Our "gateway" for snowshoe adventures!

Rain barrel & new landscaping

With the new sunroom, we needed a good way to divert rain water from an already challenging "flood zone" so we installed a rain barrel - thanks to my artful daughter and her handy husband we turned an ordinary recycling pickup into a decorative way to water my outdoor plants.

Don & I also finished a new flowerbed - I have been wanting to get that piece of "ageless iron" on the lawn.