Springtime in the hills of Missouri


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I really have fallen in love with our new home. We are nestled in the hills just southwest of the city. Our farm sits atop a small hill that backs up to about 500 acres of wooded land. We have multiple streams of varying size on the property. The one behind the house is small, runs when we have heavy rains and happens to be the very best thing a toddler has ever seen. It amazes me how wonderous splashing in water is to an 18 month old. We spend hours trampling through puddles and streams and creeks….and he never tires of it. Next to pudding…it’s the very best thing in his life right now!

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Sauce Magazine – From Downtown to Down Home


Sauce Magazine – From Downtown to Down Home.

We were so happy to hear that Sauce Magazine (a local St. Louis food and bev publication) wanted to do a story on our farm adventure! It’s a beautifully written article! I hope you take the time to read it and get to know alittle bit more about how Simon and I came to the decision to move to the farm. I will be writing a monthly blog column for Sauce Magazine, keeping everyone abreast of what is happening down in Bloomsdale!

6 weeks behind…and counting


The torrential rains and flooding along the Mississippi have put this year’s crops back about 6 weeks. We have yet to even till the fields in preparation for this year’s garden. We are hoping that this week’s heat wave will start to dry up the fields enough for us to get a tractor on them to plow. As of right now, our main growing field is home to over a bazillion frogs. The springs overflowed into the pastures, and with it carried God knows how many frog eggs. We then watched them transform into hoards of tadpoles and now they are teenie tiny froggies…just living life in their new spot on the farm. I’m hoping they will all soon find their way back to the spring and free up our planting fields…cause if they don’t they will get smushed by the tractor. There is also quite a good amount of dead fish in the fields now as well…but the turkey vultures (and Sammie the Wonder Dog) are taking care of that problem.

The house is coming along GREAT! We are at the point of putting up sheet rock! And when I say WE…I really mean Simon and my Dad and his buddy Paul. They have done all of the work so far. My father is treating me as if I am the most delicate flower now that we are expecting the little babe.  I’m not allowed to participate in the rehab process. The ONLY thing I have been allowed to do so far is peel wall paper. And that is done. I focus my time on picking out fixtures, cabinet hardware and paint colors. To be honest….I’m not too upset. As this pregnancy progresses, I’m getting more and more limited in what I can do anyway. Bending over pulling nails is rough on this gal…I’m happy to sit this one out. But for the record…my husband is a Saint.

We have been taking as many photos as we can remember to take…one day, I’ll post them here. Until then…just know that we are on the road to farm life! We should be living there within the month…if all goes smoothly.

And if you happen to come across the June issue of Sauce Magazine…open it up…you will find a lovely article on how Simon and  I met, fell in love and decided to move to a farm!

THE DECK!……almost.


Simon made crazy progress on the deck this week! Old deck down…new girders up. We have decided to go with composite for the deck instead of treated wood. It took some time to decide on what type of material we would use for the deck but we ended up deciding on composite. We have a good number of trees surrounding the house and given the shape the original deck was in, we needed something that was durable and could be washed easily. Lots of birds and sap….need I say more?

So, here are some pictures of the progress. The farmhouse has been cleared of most of its contents. The dumpster is on it’s way next week….and the bathroom is next on our list. Should be awesome! Continue reading

Burning down the house!


JUST KIDDING! That is not even our farmhouse, don’t worry….BUT we are officially starting the demolition process on the farmhouse. And by WE…I mean Simon. He was able to remove the back deck that spanned the length of the farmhouse yesterday! He’s my hero. We will be able to reclaim the wood for use on the chicken coops. It looks like when the deck was built, they used lumber from the property. It’s untreated and that makes me feel better about building with it. While it was unsafe for us to walk on, we think it is plenty sturdy enough to build the coops from. I don’t have any pictures to share right now but Simon and my Dad are at the farm as I type this post snapping photos of the ‘before’ ….we hope to take some ‘after; photos of the deck next week.  It was imperative that we get the deck done first as we can use it as a workspace when we demo the interior of the farmhouse. The farmhouse is only 1000 square feet…but with the huge deck we have a great workspace while we tackle the interior.

So fingers crossed! Life will soon get crazy busy and super fun!!!!!!!!!! Photos soon, I promise!

Oh, and one more thing. The cows are having babies! All this week, Simon has been part of some births and saved a calf when it got stuck in the spring. Of course, I missed all the fun. I love baby cows. The cows currently on pasture belong to Dan the Farmer. He rents some pasture we are not using for the time being. It’s nice to have animals out there even though we aren’t living there full time. Just proves to us that the farm is a great place to raise animals.

We’ve yet to pick a name for the farm. Still accepting suggestions! Don’t be shy!

Farmhouse Kitchens


In our teeny tiny farmhouse, the kitchen is by far the largest room. I have been rummaging through magazines, design blogs and books looking for inspiration. Below are pictures of kitchen that have caught my eye. There isn’t one specific picture that makes me say “THAT’S IT! THAT IS THE KITCHEN I WANT!” However, each picture holds something that speaks to me and a small idea that I would like to incorporate into our farmhouse kitchen. We are not going to do a complete renovation. Just going to ‘spruce’ things up a bit….or at least that is the plan as of now….who knows what will happen if I keep perusing these magazines and design blogs!?!

Above: Courtesy of This Old House

Above: Courtesy of This Old House

Above: Courtesy of This Old House

Above: Courtesy of This Old House

Above: Courtesy of This Old House

Above: Courtesy of This Old House

American Artisanal Cheesemakers: Introducing Baetje Farms


**cross posted at Menuism

Artisanal cheese can be found in pretty much every state in the union. I dare you to try and name a state that doesn’t have at least one dairy or creamery. Even the island of Hawaii is home to some great cheesemakers! Over my next few posts, I’ll talk about some of these great American cheesemakers, starting with my home state of Missouri. Continue reading

Baa Baa Black Sheep….


Well, things are still moving along with the farm, albeit in slow motion. This cold, snowy winter has put the kibosh on any farmhouse remodeling until the spring thaw. All of the technical/legal stuff that goes along with this farm is on track. Life is busy for us right now, that if for sure. Continue reading

Buring down the house!


I kid…we didn’t burn down the farmhouse. But Simon did paint it…and it looks amazing. The above picture is not the farmhouse. Its a barn in Perryville, MO. I just though it was pretty and took a picture fo fit.

It’s crazy what a fresh coat of paint can do for a house. Next up is the demolition of the deck. I’m actually scared to walk on it…it has seen better days. The new deck needs to be up before we start the demo of the interior of the house so we will have a work space outside the house. It’s only a 900 square foot house. That seems very small to me. Well, mostly because it is small…but I keep telling myself I will do better with getting rid of some of the extraneous junk in my life. There is no need for two televisions. I need to thin down my closet. So…we will see how that works out.

Phase I of animal procurement with be chickens. We are doing all of our homework and trying to figure out where we want to put the coops. Our goal is to have about 200 chickens…all free range of course. There is a great stretch of pasture with some woods along the north boundary that we are thinking would be great for them. If we get the chicks in March we could possibly have some eggs by late summer.

Then the sheep, followed by cows and hogs.

I’m so excited.

It’s really , really real…


Well, we started work on the farmhouse this past week. And by WE…I mean The Cheesemonger. I am busy working at the hospital these days. Things are falling into place and before you know it we will be living in Festus. Next on the agenda is to paint the exterior of the house and replace the wrap-around back deck. We are going to extend the deck to connect the bunk house with the main house. After that: internal demo.

I have been scouring over loads of design magazines like Dwell and other periodicals such as Beautiful Home and Cottage Living. The farmhouse is very small. It is about half the size of the loft give or take a few 100 square feet.  I keep forgetting that we have two barns and a bunk house to store things in…that is good. But I am worried about our clothes and shoes. We have ALOT. And if you know anything about The Cheesemonger…you know who has the most shoes…I have been trading kitchen ideas with a friend of mine for the last week or so. I think he may be more excited about the renovations than I am at this point. He can be…he won’t have to live there.

There are other tidbits to consider at this time as well…like for instance: A NAME for the farm/dairy. Right now it’s just known as THE FARM. But I want to come up with something a bit more catchy and fitting. I don’t necessarily want Festus to be in the name as it reminds me of the word fester, like a festering boil. I know that is gross…but it is what it is.

Lehrer Family Farms isn’t bad…but people have such a hard time with that last name! So, if anyone has any suggestions…lay ’em out there. I have my people working on it as I type this post.  It was also brought to my attention that I need to hurry up with this ‘naming’ project as I need to secure my domain name/website. All of these little things are on my to-do list that I have filed back in my brain…but I think we are going to need to knock this part our sooner or later.  We have lots of folks asking about THE FARM and wanting to get the word out…and yet, I can’t even tell them what we call it.

We won’t have sheep until the spring. We will start with chickens.  The Cheesemonger is making the plans for the coop and we are trying to figure out the best place to put it. They will be pretty free to roam the farm. I’m hoping they will help keep bugs away.

I’m excited. I’m scared. I’m hopeful. I’m nervous. I’m just all around ready for this adventure.

 

Who said life would slow down after graduation?!?


Well, I thought it would…but I was wrong. I am just filling my time with other things besides studying. Catching up with friends and family…driving up to N. Wisconsin for a little R&R and trying to get the house in order. It’s amazing how quickly a 1000 square foot loft can become a disorganized little mess when you are in grad school. Top it all off with running down to the Farm a couple times a week to keep things going….life gets away from you.

Let’s talk about the farm for a minute. Things are going well. The garden is going gangbusters. But Simon and I both agree…it would be a million times better if we were living down there full time and able to tend to it everyday. The weeds get out of control FAST! If more then 3 days goes by without tending to them….well, lets just say it isn’t pretty. This little garden experiment really reminded me of my novice status when it comes to farming/gardening. I’ve always managed my little raised beds in the city but the sheer size of the farm often leaves me overwhelmed. But, again…living down there will make it easier to manage.

When we were away last week, my Dad managed to get down to the farm a couple times to check on things. He got some good tomatoes…we came home to ALOT of tomatoes that were ready to be picked. Lost some watermelons b/c the rotted on the vine. We’ve been getting lots of rain at the farm.  That bummed me out b/c they looked great. Managed to pick 2 tiger melons. But the sheer amount of tomatoes is awe inspiring! Will be canning some sauce in the up coming days.

Whew….I’m sure there will be more to add soon. Our life is always changing. Always.

Menuism….they think cheese is important.


So, along with all of the exciting graduation news….I have some exciting blog news too. I have been asked by the founders of the new website Menuism, a new website that combines restaurant menus, food/restaurant reviews, dining journals and social networking, to be an guest author! Menuism  was started as a means for friends, family, and community to enlighten each other about their dining decisions at local restaurants. Part of the Menuism project is to utilize experts to offer up opinion, advice and information about particular subjects pertaining to dining, food, entertainment and good living. And they asked moi to be the expert blogger on cheese!  I’m VERY excited about this project and looking forward to sharing the world of artisanal cheese.  So, check it out! The expert blog launch is scheduled for July 19th! There is a super neat roster of expert bloggers and more will be added as time passes.