What to Have on Hand: Drink Coolers

These have been invaluable through the years. I highly recommend having at least one on hand! It’s amazing how quickly a small group of folks can work through 5 gallons of ice water…

5-gallon drink cooler/dispenser from Amazon.com (click on the picture to find it there)… You can often find other colors, too, if you’re not a fan of orange. πŸ™‚

Random Tip: How To Become Everyone’s Favorite Person

I live on a farm, next to another farm, surrounded by woods and other farms. This means, especially in the summer, that life is busy. We ladies often stay more indoors, so we have the opportunity to provide perks for our gentlemen. Making hay, processing chickens, building new fence, recovering from floods… All of these activities often mean several local farmers join forces for more efficient work. How can you provide perks? Here are some of our traditions (VERY effective in making us everyone’s favorite people):

Second Breakfast

No need to leave this one to the hobbits. It turns out, your work crew will be hungry after the first few hours of a job. If work starts at sunrise, an 8, 9, or 10 o-clock meal will be a hit.

Water Breaks

This is a picture from one of our work days on our church property. Mealtimes are great opportunities to relax and regroup.

This is a picture from one of our work days on our church property. Mealtimes are great opportunities to relax and regroup.

Provide plenty of water. On hot days, when you show up with a cooler of ice water and/or sweet tea, you will be popular and loved. πŸ™‚

Snacks

Between meals, a great big batch of cookies is just what you need to make. This gives you an excuse to get out and see the progress, and allows the fellas to take a quick break.

Random Tip: How To Split Your Crowd Into Teams?

I found this image on Pinterest… This is a great game! We’ve had countless hours of hilarious enjoyment with this.

So, you have a houseful of guests (which, depending on who you’re talking to could mean anywhere from 5 people to 50+), and you’re ready to play a game. What is a good way to pick teams? What if no one really wants to pick a team? What if you don’t want to spend much time in choosing teams? Try these ideas:

1. Go around the room, and everyone is either a one or two (or, if needed, a three, a four, etc.): 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, and so on.

We’ve all been there. You’re standing there, minding your own business, when suddenly you’re told that, “You’re a two!”. Yep. You’ve officially been roped into a group game, and are now on team two.

2. Separate the room in halves, thirds, or quarters. Whichever section you’re sitting in is your team.

You’ll probably have to do just a bit of shuffling to make each section roughly even. Make sure you don’t have a team mostly made up of adults, and a team made up of kids. Unless that’s your plan… Which brings us to the next option:

3. Kids against adults!

Obviously, some games don’t lend themselves to this one. But, you might be surprised how well those kids can hold their own!

4. Birth order

Hear me out on this one… This is something that my siblings and I did a lot with our friends. We would play “First borns against second borns”. When Kyle, and Β other third borns wanted in, we added them as a third team. It’s astounding how much first borns think alike, and second borns think alike… It’s a great way to find your strengths and weaknesses! (Of course, this gets tricky with 4ths, 5ths, and others. I guess we usually just piled them all into a team of their own. πŸ™‚ )

5. Families against families

This one can be fun, too! It turns out, your family can communicate in ways you don’t fully appreciate until your competitive side is unleashed. My siblings and I have enough inside jokes (that we don’t even think about!) to aid us a LOT in games like Charades, Cranium, Taboo, and others.

Conversation Topic: Summer Favorites

Wow! We’re only ONE week away from the 4th of July! Time to get those last-minute details pinned down. What do you plan to do this year?

Here are some great, family-friendly, summer-friendly activities that we look forward to every year:

  • Grilling

If it’s not going to be eaten fresh off the vine, it’s going to be grilled! Hamburgers, hotdogs, steaks, chicken, potatoes, peppers, onions, squash, and SO much more. We LOVE grilled food!

  • Swimming

One of the great things about living where we do is the abundance of water. We have a creek edging a considerable amount of our property. Down the road, just behind our hay pasture is a great swimming hole. After work on these hot, humid days, it’s not uncommon to find several folks from our farm and the neighboring farm cooling off down there.

  • Pitching Washers

This (pronounced in our family, “Pitchin’ Warshers”) is a great yard game. It’s become a family tradition! I don’t have a picture right now of our homemade set, but it looks something sort of like this:

Toss the washers into the holes. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Think again! πŸ™‚

What are your summer favorites? Ice Cream? Music festivals? Road trips? Flip flops? Do tell!

Many Hands Make Light Work

I finally snapped a few pictures of our landscaping work at the dairy! This time, we were focussing on planting the cinnamon basil, purple basil, and begonias.

Luke and Abby were such great help! After I’d helped with the first few plants, they were able to take over completely. That way, I was able to go finish putting in the geranium plant, and collect more “mulch” (a mix of dirt, manure, and hay conveniently located a few yards away from the dairy sidewalk πŸ™‚ ).

Once again… Unplanned fellowship with unmeasurable worth, and no candlelight was needed.

Productive Fellowship/What to Have on Hand

What to Have on Hand: A miniature shovel. Thankfully, we’ve kept one or two of these around the place! It’s so much more manageable for kids, but still useable!

We currently have some of the most awesome neighbors ever. Not to brag, or anything…

Just up the hill, we have our HQ for our small dairy operation, along with a guest house. In that guest house live several adorable, lovable, sweet girls who are always interested in what’s going on around the farm. In fact, they now know the names of our dairy cows better than I do. πŸ™‚

So, the other day when I got out to prepare the dairy facility for some landscaping, I had 5 pairs of little hands eager to help out. While they didn’t need to be helping me scrub the building with bleach, they certainly could stay busy picking up trash and pulling weeds. Let me tell ya, folks, these girls can pull some weeds. By the time I was finished with my scrubbing, the chickweed forrest had disappeared, and a lovely future-flowerbed lay in its place.

This was unplanned fellowship, unmeasurable in worth, yet as casual as it can get.

The Cell Phone Basket


Is hospitality feeling a little forced? No one makes eye contact anyway, right? Apparently, people are more entertaining/important if you’re communicating with them virtually, rather than face-to-face. The presence of cell phones can make even a family meal difficult to enjoy.

Instead of instant messaging the person sitting next to you in order to get their attention, try removing the “devices” altogether.

 Recently, as we sat down to enjoy some casual time with friends, our host passed around a basket. Everyone gave up their cell phones to the basket for the evening, and eye contact was reestablished. Somehow, we all managed to make it through several hours without the ability to see our phones.

Give it a try! See what you think.