Welcome to Moo Plate Special. I’m Ashley—a farmer’s wife, stay-at-home mom, part-time freelance graphic designer, part-time office assistant at our feedlot and an on-call cook during our busy seasons.
I may have my hands full most days of the week, but I decided to start this blog despite the time constraint I usually face. When my grandma passed away recently, I realized how important it was for me to remember her through her recipes. Memories were always made in the kitchen and she never failed to document those memories on her recipe cards. No matter how simple, she took notes of everything, and I’ve found that the simplest things are the most comforting and meaningful. Those special conversations had over mealtime with family are remembered each time I make those dishes and desserts. Food is the soul of family memories. I feel like as long as I have those recipes, my memories of her won’t fade.
I happened to have been extremely fortunate growing up with both my grandma and mom being skilled at cooking and baking—even sewing (of which, I don’t have much of a knack or patience for but I do attempt now and then). My grandma and mom (each a farmer’s wife) may have had their differences but they were both a great influence as they taught me a great deal about the dedication of meals being made at home. Once you were done eating breakfast, you were already thinking about what was going to be for lunch/dinner. Homemade food always tastes better and is enjoyed so much more thoroughly.
Having a vegetable garden also makes the food you eat so much more rewarding. My mom has always done her own landscaping and gardening and helped me get started in gardening, as well. I’ve had my own garden now for four years, and I think I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve and some advice for novice gardener.
In addition to cooking and gardening, I also enjoy drawing, designing print materials and DIY projects. At every chance I get, I try to make a homemade or personalized version for gifts and home decorating. I have a love affair with taking photos, as well. In fact, I take all of our “professional looking” family photos—primarily because I refuse to pay an obscene amount of money for a photo session in which my son may not cooperate. I dabble in all things homemade. You could say it’s my niche.
Sometimes I tend to get a little wrapped up in tending to everyone else’s needs, and it’s easy to lose sight of my own needs and interests. So this blog also serves as an outlet for my insatiable desire for creativity and even a mode for self-improvement.
Now more than ever, I understand that you never fully appreciate your parents/grandparents until you become a parent. Only then do you discover the self-sacrifice involved but also the massive extent that your heart swells at the thought of your family. I hope that someday this blog will serve as a legacy to my children and future grandchildren with each post as a documented memory for them to hold on to.
I hope you’ll enjoy my “specials” here on the blog. Thanks for visiting!
A bit about my background and my unforeseen role as a farmer’s wife:
I grew up on a farm, the same farm that I now live on today. The culture and lifestyle of a farm family gave me an enormous amount of appreciation for the never-ending work that goes into a family business and also the satisfaction in being a part of it all. However, I had zero intention of moving back to the farm or a small town for that matter.
My husband and I met at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He was from California and I from Nebraska. Our original plan was to move out to California (of which he did after he graduated and worked as an auditor while I, a year younger, finished up my degree in journalism back in Nebraska), but upon my graduation I was applying for jobs both in California and Nebraska because we were on the fence about us staying in California. My husband missed the less trafficked roads of Nebraska as well as our college friends. Let’s just say my first job ended up being in Omaha—life pulled us both in different directions than we expected and surprised us with eventually returning home to my family’s farm.
My husband learned the ropes of our feedlot and farming business while I worked part-time as a graphic designer and a substitute teacher. We have two children now who love the farm as much as I did growing up. I may not have envisioned us with a future in farming given our career backgrounds (accounting and graphic design), but the lifestyle of a farm family is an essence worth preserving. Especially after starting a family, I realized how important it was to me to have a big backyard and wide-open spaces for them. My hope is that they will also learn the meaning of work ethic through the model of farming. They are only ages six and three years old, so for now, they simply ask, “Why does Daddy always have to work?” I usually respond, “Because the cattle don’t take days off from wanting to be fed.”