The Koski Crew

By Riina Koski

Just west of the Minnesota Twin Cities, the bright lights fade, the starry sky gets a bit bigger, and the pavement turns to gravel. There, twelve minutes from the closest town, you will find our family at the end of a long, dirt road. With sugar maples lining our driveway, we celebrate our Canadian roots:

Welcome to Red Maple Ranch!

Before the sun rises, our resident rooster announces the beginning of each day in loud cock-a-doodle-doos. The early morning fog hovers just above the ponds. Slowly, soft pastel colors peek over the horizon.

The hens fly the coop to free-range in the orchard. They spend their days actively foraging for bugs, worms, and all things good for the chicken palate. Occasionally an unnoticed apple or pear falls to the ground: Uber Eats! Their reward for us? Fresh, nutritious eggs, laid daily, ready for the skillet.

After our move from Canada, we found two adorable pups to join our family: Ginger and Jasper. Promise to the children, delivered. Now when the best friends are not romping the trails, swimming in the ponds, or riding the four-wheeler, they settle themselves on the front porch and keep watch over our
little tribe.

Grazing in the pasture is our small herd of thirteen beef cattle. Each spring brings the excitement of new calves. There is something beautiful about watching them nurse in the field, such a perfect plan of nature. They frolic across the pasture by day and snuggle in close to their mommas at night. Our cat, Calise, has skillfully taken on the ranch mousing duties. He and momma cat Cheers have the kittens in training before they graduate and move to their new homes.

Our days are filled with sites of nature. Spring brings rebirth. Daffodils and tulips push through the snow, and blades of grass spring forth. We watch the apple, pear, and plum blossoms open, providing a feast for the busy honey bees. The lilacs come next, their delicate smell sweet enough to drink. Summer brings heat, growth, and sometimes drought. Fall brings the busy season of harvest and food preservation. Winter seems to be the time that allows us Minnesotans to snuggle up a bit, wrapped in a pristine blanket of white snow. Wool socks, warm blankets, hot drinks, and candles…

the epitome of Danish hygge and coziness.

Our days are also filled with sounds of nature. Roosters crow, birds sing, dogs bark, kittens meow, and cows moo. The ponds are home to waterfowl: ducks quack, geese honk, and graceful white swans call. Of course, there is plenty of action between eight siblings and parents as well, living everyday life on the ranch. It’s safe to say that only the fish in the kids’ tank are quiet.

In addition to school and work, there is never a dull moment on the ranch: feeding and caring for
animals, fencing, machinery maintenance, and general repairs are the beginning of the list. The gardens require planting, watering, weeding, harvesting, and preserving. The orchards and berry bushes need pruning, picking, and preserving as well. Lawn mowers hum, weed whippers whip, and seldom is the
summer workday over before dusk.

Maybe like yours, the kitchen is the heart of our home. Feeding a family of ten is no small task. Our six-burner stove rarely cools for long, and the dishwasher runs two to three times a day.

Since our kids were young, we have focused on the goal of sitting down, together, for supper. There amidst steaming plates of food and spilled milk, we go around the table and give each child a chance to tell something about their day. It’s never perfect, but we think it’s important. The kids learn to speak, and we share the ups and downs of life. Family time is a wonderful blessing.

Each evening the view from the front porch changes to a new masterpiece. God is the artist, forever changing the canvas across the western sky. Some days we watch looming, black thunderheads roll in, bringing claps of thunder, sizzling lightning, and rain for life. On other days the blazing red, orange, and yellows soften to warm pastels. The sun sets and the work day comes to a close.

Perhaps then comes one of the best parts of the day. With fresh towels in hand, we head down the hill to the east side of the garden.

There, nestled between two tall cedars, is likely the most visible nod to our Nordic roots, our wood-burning cedar sauna.

As water sizzles on the hot rocks, steam rises, and all cares of a busy day drift away… Like our forefathers, we rest, relax, and rejuvenate our Nordic souls.

It is when the farm animals are quietly nestling down that country nightlife begins. Stepping out on the sauna porch with a tin cup of cold water, the vast sky darkens and millions of stars emerge. The crickets begin chirping, the frogs start croaking, and off in the distance, coyotes join together to yip and howl at
the moon rising in the east.

Nature brings life and energy to our family, and we trust it does for you, too. Nature. The awesome. The wondrous. Ever-changing, yet predictable. Green grass. Trees. Flowers. Sunshine. Rain. Fresh air.


No matter where you live, we want to help you bring that outside world in for your family.

We have an amazing way to do just that.

Welcome to NordicSol!

Want to Bring the Minnesota Outdoors in?

If you’re ready to bring the outdoors in, we’re ready to help you. Contact us to discuss your project and receive a free quote.