Running a farm keeps us so busy that it’s hard to make time for cookouts. This month though, we had two cookouts, with our very own brats, and they were absolutely amazing.

First, Ian burned a pile full of sticks and shrubs that had been at our place since we moved in seven years ago. Granted, the pile had been small at first, but it rapidly gained size under our watch. There was always something more important to take care of here, so it sat there.

Ian finally burned the tremendous pile because he was afraid that our youngest laying hen chicks might wander into it and get stuck. So throughout a Saturday, he and our friend John tended two separate bonfires, fed by all that wood. Just before supper time, I came out with a tray of brats and some corn wrapped in tin foil. The fire was so hot that we had to rake some coals over to the side so we could cook our food on them, but we did that and soon were eating our picnic dinner, enjoying the fruits of Ian’s labor.

I love sittting on a blanket on the ground eating with the family and looking out over our fields. It’s even more special knowing that the food we are was raised right here on our own land.

Just a week later, we were following up on a plan to get out and about a bit more as a family. We’d planned to spend the afternoon swimming in Faribault, but then Ian had to meet the neighbor that bails our hay at 3 p.m., so started our outing earlier and decided to grill brats at the beach for lunch.

We brought some wood in a bucket, and we made a fire in one of those little public grills that you always see at parks. I have always eyed those grills and pictured using one some day, and we finally did it!

The brats were the best brats I have ever enjoyed in my life. Maybe it was just the setting, or maybe it was the flavor of the woods smoke, but something turned our brats from amazing into unforgettable. I didn’t want to stop eating them. I was glad I’d brought a few packages!

Raising the food is one side of the story, but enjoying the food is another. I am so grateful that those brats helped make our summer feel complete. I am also grateful that we could be triply satisfied because the meat tasted wonderful, we could feel proud of the work we had done, and we knew our animals had lived good lives. There’s nothing that could make a meal feel more special.

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