Fall Barn Party

Fall barn party

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Barn Party

Last week, we had a barn party.  We had been talking about having one for three years now and decided that this was the year.  A picture in a Country Living magazine of a table set up with hay bales for chairs in the main aisle of a barn was the inspiration for our party.  We started working on it a week before so we didn’t have to do everything the last minute.  B-u-t, we still had a ton to do and were busy running around getting everything done right up until guests arrived.  Of course.  That just seems to be how we roll.  And we couldn’t ask the horses to quit pooping for a week, so what’s a girl (or two) to do!

hydrangeas
Beautiful hydrangeas from mom’s yard made the perfect decorations
The barn all decked out and spider web, manure, and almost dust free!

Also, since it was set for September 23rd, we thought it would be perfect fall weather, and a perfect way to celebrate the beginning of the season.  So we envisioned cool, crisp air and thought a soup bar would be an easy way to feed a lot of people.  Wrong.  Mother Nature did not cooperate at all!  It was 90 degrees and hotter than heck.  Who would have thought?!  We sure didn’t, since that kind of weather is extremely rare in the summer here in Michigan, let alone late September.

The chalkboard wasn’t big enough to list everything on the menu!

Well, all week we swept, vacuumed, dusted, knocked down cobwebs, strung lights (zillions!), hauled tables and chairs, decorated, and followed behind the horses with a manure rake to pick up every little poop (okay, not quite, but almost).  All while we sweated our bras off and wondered if it would all be worth it.  And despite the heat, it surely was.  For one, the barn was cleaner than our houses last weekend.

wheelbarrow with mums and pumpkins
An old wheelbarrow is the perfect container for mums and pumpkins

 

Fynn and one of the barn cats

Fall Barn Party

We also had a great turnout!  It was so fun hosting the party at the barn with the horses being nosy and hanging out by the fence checking everything out.  Adults and kids alike enjoyed each other’s company visiting with one another and eating lots of good food.  We made six different soups that were all delicious…chili, taco soup, stuffed green pepper soup, cheesy potato, chicken noodle, and white chicken chili.  We had bread, cornbread, cheese, and crackers.  And between us, Kendal, and our mom, we had a huge dessert table!  Mom made peanut butter fudge and Kendal made apple crisp.  Mardi made sweet and salty Chex mix, almond bars, scotcheroos, sugar cookie bars, and pecan pie bars.  Megan made monster cookie bars, smore’s brownies, and southern pecan praline cake.  We also had some friends bring dessert, too!  It was like dessert heaven!

Fall Barn Party
The bales were a little low…but it just made us all feel like kids!
Manon and Jenna enjoying the hay ride!
More Hay Ride Fun!

We set up a craft table outside for kids, which stayed busy pretty much the whole night.  The older boys played football and the older girls helped out with the little kids.  Chris drove the tractor and gave hayrides through the woods and down the road.  And once the sun went down, we were all much more comfortable.  The trees down the drive were lit up, as well as the inside of the barn, and it just looked so pretty.  We clipped hydrangeas from our mom’s yard and they made the prettiest centerpieces, especially since they were free!  A clipped branch from the woods strung with fairy lights provided decoration for the food tables, along with little baskets of apples and cattails.  Cornstalks adorned the barn inside and out.  And the string lights hanging from the ceiling provided just enough light to keep it festive.  I wish we had beautiful pictures to show you all, but we were so busy visiting that we failed to get great shots.  You’ll just have to use your imagination, as these pictures just don’t do it justice.

Colin wants to make a craft, too! He stayed by the fence all night, trying to join the festivities.
Bryce giving Baby Rye some love.
Milla having fun helping out with our little guests
Can’t beat a good old-fashioned hay ride!

Whew!  You probably weren’t interested in all of the little details, so forgive us.  We are just having fun reliving it, especially since it might never happen again!  Okay, we’re joking…we loved it.  We just haven’t quite forgotten how much work it was yet!  Give us a year!

Fall Barn Party
After the party

Fall Barn Party

Fall Barn Party

In case you are interested in any of the recipes we used, see below for links to any we used online.

No-flour Monster Cookie Bars by Together as Family make a whole jelly roll pan, so they are great for a crowd!

Fudgy S’mores Brownies by Mandy’s Recipe Box…I cheated and used a brownie mix, but they were still delish!


Southern Pecan Praline Cake by The Country Cook uses a cake mix, so easy peasy!

The Best Pecan Pie Bars

The Best Pecan Pie Bars by Rockrecipes.com

 

Almond Bars by Sometimeshomemade.com

The Best Sweet Cornbread from thegirlwhoateeverything.com

And stay tuned for a post on the soup recipes we used, since soup season is finally here…even if it wasn’t the day of the party!

Thanks for reading to the end, friends!  Happy Fall to you all!

Megan and Mardi

Hay Day

hay wagon, hay bales
Kimball and Sander resting up before the unloading begins!

We recently had our first hay day of the year.  It involves hitching up a trailer to the truck, going over to the next town and stacking the truck and trailer with hay.  Like, 130 bales or as much as we can fit.  It was almost like an emergency because we were down to 6 bales.  We were close to having the horses graze in our front yards.  Sander would have loved it, because he’s not fond of mowing.  Anyway, this was the first time we ever had use of 2 trucks and trailers.  It was awesome!  David, Sheldon, and I took one and Chris, Megan, and my Dad took the other.  David and Sheldon filled one truck and trailer up while I counted bales (well, I tried….I lost track a few times and had to start over).  Then the other truck came and we took off to unload into our barn.  Having two trucks and trailers meant we can make half the trips we normally do to get the 1,000 bales that we need.  We have a borrowed hay elevator we use to get the bales into the loft.  It was the perfect temperature, too.  Usually our timing is impeccable and it’s in the 80’s and muggy.

hay wagon
Megan stacked the trailer up to the rafters.
hay, stacked hay
Chris looks a long way down from Megan’s view at the top of the stacked trailer
Fynn running through a field of wheat
This is what Fynn does while the trailer is loaded.

We’ve learned a lot about stacking hay these past few years.  Like, what to wear and what not to wear.  Megan knows what to wear and I know what not to.  She always wears jeans and I usually wear yoga pants….no more, though.  Hay sticks to yoga pants like lint to a lint roller. Like flies to a flystrip.  Like white on rice….you get the picture.  I once went into a gas station to get a pop in between loads…..with so much hay stuck to my pants, I was embarrassed.  But my thirst won out over my pride.  As far as shirts go, that’s a tough one.  It’s such hot and sweaty work, it’s tempting to wear a tank.  But the hay is so scratchy, and it has uncanny ability to get into the craziest places.  As long as I live, I’ll never forget the discomfort of hay stuck in my bra.  It doesn’t matter what shirt you wear, hay will get underneath it.  Maybe a turtleneck would work if it wasn’t so hot!  Don’t even get me started on hay stuck in our boots….

unloading hay bales
Kimball and Sander unstacking for Grandpa to send it up the elevator
Milla and Papa enjoying a break at the end of Hay Day

Megan and I don’t mind hay days, probably because we didn’t grow up having to do it (like David did).  It’s a family affair….many hands make light (but scratchy!) work.  One year Megan made these amazing brownies, so now it’s a must..  On Pinterest, they’re called ‘Slutty’ brownies (gasp!), but we named them ‘What the Hay?’ brownies.  They’re super delicious but calorie-laden, but we figure, why not?  After all that work, we’ve earned them.  We’d be happy to share them with you if you help us on our next hay day.  We’ll probably have at least two more of them!

Milla and Fynn enjoying their What the Hay brownies

 

what the hay brownies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So we will see you at the barn, right?

Mardi

 

Back in the Saddle

I took my first ride of the season yesterday, and boy was it fun.  Mardi and I are fair-weather riders, so needless to say, we don’t put many miles on Colin and Angus between November to April.  We also have these kids that like to make us chauffeur them around everywhere, so sometimes it isn’t always easy to find the time.  Either way, it seems like there is always some reason I don’t ride as much as I want to.  I probably shouldn’t have yesterday either…my three kids all had friends or neighbor kids over, so I left my poor husband to look after about seven (or was it eight?) kids by himself.  Nevertheless, I took advantage of his generosity and headed to the barn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not gonna lie, I still get nervous riding sometimes, especially after a few months off.  Something about getting on a 1500 pound animal that has a mind of his own, and has been known to freak out at imaginary monsters on the other side of the fence.  Mardi and I didn’t even start riding until our 30’s, and sometimes I wonder what we were thinking!  Wait…I know.  We pictured ourselves moseying along a trail on a horse with nerves of steel, who never would dream of spooking.  Well…that was just plain naive.  It’s gonna happen sooner or later.  And it has.  Even if you’ve had way more successful rides than scary ones, it’s so easy for your mind to go back to those scary times when you put your feet in the stirrups.

Gotta love the English tack and western boots…classy.

 

Riding has definitely shown me how rewarding it can be to step out of my comfort-zone.  I have never considered myself adventurous or brave, and I’m still not.  But I saddle up despite my fears because it’s too fun not to.  And I don’t want the what-ifs to control my life and steal my joy.  What if I fall and get hurt?  What if something happens to one of my kids? What if we start a blog and nobody reads it and it’s a total failure?  I could go on forever.  But that isn’t what God wants for us, thankfully.  He reminds us over and over again in the Bible not to live in fear.  Here are two of my favorite verses about conquering fear and remembering that God is with me wherever I am…even on the back of a horse!

 

And what if I don’t fall…or fail?  What if I put my trust in God and do my best and just enjoy the ride?

 

 

 

Our Little Herd

For those of you who are not familiar with the Liberty Belles, we take care of four horses on a daily basis.  Or we used to, up until last week.  Now we are down to three for the moment.  We sold our palomino quarter horse named Flossie to a friend of ours.  She is just five and way too spunky for our kids.  We wanted it to work…she’s cute, friendly, and has nerves of steel.  Unfortunately, she is incredibly stubborn and will turn a ride into a wrestling match if she knows she can get away with it.  And she knows she can.  She took my Milla on an equestrian version of a Nantucket Sleigh Ride.  She bucked off a friend.  She tried to nip once or twice, and is a stinker in the cross ties.  Despite all of that, we loved her.  And we know she’ll make a great horse with the right rider, which made it even harder to part ways.

That’s probably one of the hardest parts of horse ownership…finding the right horse to match the rider.  We knew our first mistake was getting her so young, but we loved how calm she was.  I tend to look for the most bombproof horse around, but sometimes that’s not always the answer.  Mardi and I are still relatively new at this…only owning our own horses for four years now.  And Flossie’s the second “kid horse” to not live up to our expectations.  Horse ownership is not for the faint of heart, we have come to realize.

Luckily, Mardi’s daughter Marek has owned a cute little Arab named Nina for about eight years now, and she is perfect for my girls to ride.  Marek has since outgrown her and moved on to another horse.   Nina is calm, mostly obedient for a mare, doesn’t kick, bite, buck, rear, or bolt.  So even though she is too skinny and her white coat is always dirty, she can’t canter anymore, and she looks pretty average next to our Friesians, we appreciate her steady nature.  In other words, she’s worth the hay!

This is a picture of my youngest, Fynnlay, on Nina last summer.  (She does always wear a helmet, but we were just posing in the round pen.:)  For those of you searching for the perfect horse…Mardi and I wish you good luck!  There is one out there…we’ve learned you just might have to do a little compromising!

Did you ever have a horse who didn’t work out?  Let us know…so we don’t feel so bad!

 

Happy Spring…(a few days late)!

Spring has officially arrived!  Even in Michigan, with freezing temperatures still, I see trees budding, hardy perennials sprouting, and our horses shedding!  After months of no green grass or flowers and naked trees and shrubs, even my kids rejoice over something as simple as a tree budding!  The temperatures aren’t quite comfortable yet…yesterday was only in the 30’s, but we have had a few “teaser” days where it reached the 50’s and the kids ran outside and played without coats and boots, hats and mittens.  Its funny how light and free you feel going outside without all of those layers on the first few times!  That is one of the reasons why I love Winter…it makes me appreciate Spring even more!

So to help celebrate this wonderful season, I have added a few decorations and greenery around the house.

And just in case you were wondering what a shedding horse looks like, here’s my beautiful boy Colin…

And the handful of hair I get when I pet him…He’s just wanting to shed all of his winter layers, too!