The Future of Agriculture isn’t dead. 

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about how agriculture is an aging profession with most farmers past the age of retirement. With more and more sons and daughters leaving the farm to pursue careers off the farm, people tell me all the time that the future of agriculture is a dying breed. 

I couldn’t disagree more. 

The future of agriculture isn’t dead. We’re just busy! 

We’re busy starting farms, families and careers inside the agriculture industry. 

We’re busy from dusk until dawn feeding, milking, planting, and spraying. 


We’re busy managing feed mills and selling seeds and chemicals. 

We’re busy pinching pennies to get by on low commodity prices. 

We’re busy helping friends and neighbors with their fields after all our own work is done. 


Why are we so busy? 

For years, we followed in our parents and grandparent footsteps, watching what they did, helping where we could. Now, we walk beside them. We have grown from the quiet listener to a voice in the conversation.


We went from toy trucks to semi trucks, rolling in the dirt to plowing dirt, toy cows to owning cows, all before we graduated high school. 

At young ages, we have taken over more responsibility and less acres to fulfill it on. Land went up and crops went down.

But we are still here.

We are the first generation to grow up with the technology that can drive a tractor, milk a cow and feed a whole building of pigs all with the touch of a button. 

We can track crop yields by the acre and milk production by the cow. We can feed a specific amount of feed to a particular cow all with technology. 

While we are still here, there are less of us. But that doesn’t mean our passion is weak. Talk to a farmer and you will see a passion that will amaze you, a passion that has grown through droughts, fires, floods and bugs. A passion that holds a family together through late nights and early mornings, long weekends and field dinners. 

If you look around, you’ll see us: the future of agriculture. 

We’re in the church pews on Sunday’s, praying for good yields, dry ground and more rain. 

We’re parked on the side of the road, checking crops and cussing weeds. 

We’re pulling trailers down the road, filled with pigs, cattle, hopes and dreams. 

We’re in small town bars on Saturday night, watching the weather and the baseball game. 

We’re in the fields by the interstate, pulling planters and driving combines. 


We’re at the bank, stretching loans to cover more equipment, land and animals.

We’re at the kitchen table at midnight, eating supper after a long, hot day.

We’re at the country fair, with our children, nieces, and nephews, encouraging the next generation to pursue our passion.

We’re at the office early morning, cup of coffee in hand and ready to see a new dawn.

We’re here and we’re definitely not dead. And as the future of American agriculture, we’re here to stay. 

~Nicole

Advertisements

Did you miss it?

Don’t worry I did too! I missed National Ice Cream Day! It is always the third Sunday in July. But don’t worry, you can still celebrate National Ice Cream Month; which takes place during the month of July! Ten percent of all milk produced in the United States is used to make ice cream! How awesome is that? National Ice Cream Day and National Ice Cream Month were created in 1984, by President Ronald Reagan, as way to recognize a fun and nutritious food that is enjoyed by over 90% of the nation.

You can learn more about the history of ice cream, common trends, and tips on storing and handling it at the  International Dairy Foods Association Website

Before you check out the website, you can make this delicious ice cream cake to celebrate! The best part about this cake is it is EASY and can be made to feed a few people or a large crowd!

Homemade Ice Cream Cake

1 Gallon of your favorite ice cream- We used chocolate!

1 package Oreo Cookies

1 package Reese, cut into pieces

1 package mini M&M’s

1 bottle of Magic Shell

Chocolate Syrup, Carmel Syrup, or any other candy toppings you might like.

Now the fun part begins!

  1. Crush up the Oreo cookies and place in the bottom of a glass pan or very deep container with a lid. We use a 9 x 13 glass pan. If you use the entire gallon of ice cream it will fill two 9 x 13 glass pans!
  2. It works best if your ice cream is slightly soft, but not melted! I would let it sit out for maybe 10 minutes depending on how frozen it is. Using a large metal or wooden spoon, scoop out layers of ice cream and place them on top of the Oreo cookies. You want the ice cream layers to fill the 9 x 13 pan about halfway full.
  3. On top of the layer of ice cream, place the cut up Reese’s, some mini M&M’s, Magic Shell, and any other syrups or toppings! You can put as much, or as little of the toppings as you wish!
  4. Then place another layer of ice cream to almost completely fill the pan on top of the layer of toppings you just put down. You want to leave enough room to sprinkle more toppings on top of the cake.
  5. Place another layer of toppings on the top of your most recent ice cream!
  6. Put the cake in the freezer, let it harden, and enjoy

The best part of this recipe is it can be adapted to fit the needs of your family or event! It is up to you!

Enjoy!

-Bethany

Be sure to like and follow us on Facebook to learn more about our adventures on our farm and hear about new recipes!

 

 

 

 

Overwhelming cucumbers 

Means it’s time to make PICKLES!! Or as my Dad likes to say, we grow pickles in the garden instead of cucumbers.


I was excited to try my Grandma’s recipes for dill and bread and butter pickles and when our friends gave us a bag full of cucumbers this was the perfect time!

It was super easy! If you have never made pickles before don’t be afraid!


The cucumbers I was using to make the dill pickles I soaked them for three hours in ice water. The bread and butter recipe called for the cucumbers to be sliced and soaked in water and pickling salt for three hours.


I made the dill pickles first. I sliced them and stuffed them in jars with sliced onions and fresh dill from the garden.


Then I boiled the sugar, water, and salt together. Once it came to a boil you can pour the hot mixture into the jars.


I use this nice green funnel I found at Walmart in the canning my aisle  to help me keep the top of the jars clean.

If you want to use the pickles right away you can stop here and enjoy! But, I wanted to store my a little longer and place them in a hot water bath so I boiled the lids.


As soon as I pored the hot liquid into the jars, I wiped the top of the jar with a dry rag and places the lid and the rims on the jar and hand tightened them. Once I got all the jars done, I put them in the hot water bath for 10 minutes at 180 degrees farirheit.


Next, I started on the bread and butter pickles! I mixed the tumeric, mustard seed, and sugar together and brought it to a boil.

Once it was boiling, you add the sliced pickles to the mixture and let it boil for a couple of minutes, until the cucumbers turn a slightly different color.

Then place the cucumbers and juice into jars. If you want to eat them enjoy or repeat then steps above for a hot water bath!

Enjoy!

Bethany

Check out the recipes on the Facebook page!

Fruity 4th of July

I love the 4th of July! The endless fireworks, the family, and of course the BBQ’s! When I was little, I didn’t know the struggles of finding the perfect dish to bring to the BBQ that would have everyone asking for your recipe. Well I have solved all your problems. Below is a recipe that is sure to please everyone. We have been making this recipe in our house for years and it is definitely a winner!

Bits and Pieces

1 small can sweetened condensed milk (any brand will work)

1 large box instant vanilla pudding

1 large tub cool whip

1 to 1 1/2 boxes of vanilla wafers

strawberries

blueberries

mini chocolate chips

-The amount of fruit and chocolate chips will vary depending on how much you like that type of fruit. Normally, one small container of blueberries and 1 one pound box of strawberries is what we use. Frozen fruit can be used but fresh fruit works best.

Directions:

  1. Mix the condensed milk and 1 and 1/2 cups cold water together. Add pudding and mix with a whisk until smooth. Place in the refrigerator for 5 minutes.
  2. Fold in cool whip and chill for another 5 minutes.
  3. While the mixture is chilling, place a layer of vanilla wafers in a deep container. Once the mixture has chilled, place for the 5 minutes place a layer of the mixture on top of the vanilla wafers.
  4. Then, put a layer of washed and sliced strawberries, blueberries, and chocolate chips on top of the chilled mixture.
  5. Starting with the vanilla wafers,repeat the layers. It is best if you make the layers thinner. The more layers the better!
  6. Enjoy!

 

This recipe will make bringing a dish to 4th of July events a breeze!

-Bethany

 

 

Makin’ Mayo

After all of the Memorial Day festivities are over, have you ever thought about what creamy cole slaw, potato salad, and deviled eggs have in common? They are all made with Mayonnaise! Now be honest, how many of us take a moment to think about how mayo is made when we reach into the fridge to gather the ingredients for our deviled eggs? Do you think about the farmers involved in this product that we use every day? Lets start from the top. What is it actually made of? Mayo is made from combining egg yolks, lemon juice or vinegar, oil, and seasonings. Check out the video to get an idea of what the process actually entails.

How its Made: Mayo

Can you believe there is that much work in making mayo! I never thought about the entire process until I started teaching my Food Science and Technology Class.

Did you know that when you look up the ingredients in mayo, there are several major producers that pop up. The first one is Hellman’s and they are excited to tell you that their product is made from cage free eggs.

hellmans.JPG

What in the world is a cage free egg? Well, it means that the egg in the mayo was laid by a chicken not kept in a cage, but that chicken is still kept in a barn. A caged chicken is kept in a cage in a barn and a free range chicken is not confined and kept outside. So why does that matter? There is a big movement for cage free hens, but I wonder if those individuals have every thought about the hen? A hen is a female chicken that is mature enough to produce an egg. Not all eggs are fertile and can produce chicks.  Most hens will start laying between 5-7 months of age. They will lay best at 1 to 2 years of age.  Younger hens will lay 1 egg every 3-4 days. A hen 30 weeks old can lay 2 eggs every 3 days. Some have been known to lay an egg a day. All breeds have different laying abilities, as explained by Murray McMurray Hatchery.  Chickens kept in cages are in a comfortable temperature controlled environment. They never get rained on, pecked or pushed around by the other hens, and never have to fight for food and water! Each hen in a cage has adequate water and food and can produce a fabulous egg to be made into mayo. Studies have shown there is no real difference in caged and cage free eggs (The Poultry Science Journal).  Granted, I will say that farm fresh eggs might have a different taste, but they are in a completely different category when thinking about large scale commercial production with caged vs. cage free eggs.

I love to do an activity in class with my students concerning this same issue. They have to answer the question,”Which egg would you rather eat: caged or caged free?” Then, students get the opportunity to complete the process of actually making mayo! It is a great way for them to learn valuable research skills and actually be able to back up their own beliefs and opinions.

Makin’ Mayo Lab

So the next time you go to the fridge and grab the mayo jar think about how much time, effort, and care goes into the egg production which eventually makes your mayonnaise!

-Bethany

I’ll be Drinking on Memorial Day. 

That’s right. I’m not going a memorial service, I’m not laying flowers in a cemetery, and I’m not going to cry for the one’s that we have lost. You know why?

Because I’m going to CELEBRATE.

I’m going to celebrate the fact that they gave their lives for me to be free. I’m going to celebrate that they miss memorial days with their families so I can spend it with mine. I’m going to celebrate THEIR LIVES.

So yes, I will be on the river this weekend, doing what I love to do. Because I am completely and utterly thankful that I have the ability to do things that people take for granted. Drive. Vote. Have a job. Pick my own husband. All things that are part of our daily lives, but other counties pray for, hope for, and fight for each and every day.

And you know what else is beautiful? The fact that people can openly disagree with this post and express their feelings to me without being persecuted.

All these things happen, because people give their lives for us daily. Men and women give up their lives, leave their children and spouses, and fight for YOU. That’s the beauty of Memorial Day. That’s the reason I celebrate.

But the main reason I celebrate is because some can’t. They gave the ultimate sacrifice to their country. And if that isn’t worth celebrating, then I don’t know what is.

So before you judge me, think of the soldier you are mourning. Do you really think they want you to spend a day locked in sadness? I know that every one of them would look you in the eye and tell you to celebrate.

They fought for you. Why not celebrate them?

~Nicole

Happy one year of work!

That’s right, I said happy and work all in one sentence! I think we all know that Bethany is a teacher by now, but apparently I have kept my job a well kept secret! 

One year ago today, I started my job as a bookkeeper at a small town MFA Agri-Service. I left a job outside of agriculture and came running back to my passion of ag and excel sheets. Yes, people, excel sheets. 

A bookkeeper seems like a pretty self explanatory job. To a point, it is. Of course, I do most of the billing to customers and take care of all the bills that we receive. I also work the counter and answer the phones. Occasionally, I have to bite the bullet and actually load some feed. 

In addition to all that, I keep track of all the grain movement and handle all the settlements. Usually it’s a little slower in the winter, but I’m finishing up a basis trading class and have been taking care of another location’s booking while their bookkeeper is gone. 

Other than that, as the newest member of the pack, I get a lot of responsibilities that other people don’t want and those keep me busy. 

But my absolute favorite part of my job is working in a small town. When I started, memorizing names, faces and who owns what field was overwhelming. Now that I have all that down, these people have become my daily entertainment and have accepted me like I have always been here. 

Growing up, Dad always told me that you’ll never work a day in your life, if you love what you do. All through college, I stressed about what I wanted to do and what I would love to do. And after having jobs that I didn’t love, I genuinely feared that it would never happen. 

But in the past year, I have driven through snowstorms, worked late, and skipped events with my friends all to get the job done. And at the end of a year, I can say it was all worth it. 

Barney the Barrel Horse

A year ago today, I killed my best friend. I couldn’t handle doing it myself so I asked my dad to do it. 

No, I’m not writing this from jail. My best friend was my horse. 

I’ve always been that horse crazy girl. I didn’t play with Barbies, I had horses. I pretended my bike was a horse. I’m pretty sure I drove my parents nuts. And finally at age ten, the perfect situation came along and I got my wish. 

With dad being in the National Guard, he and his coworkers travel a lot. One of his coworkers was going away for six months, and needed a place to keep his horse and mule. My dad jumped at the chance, hoping six months would break me of the love of horses.  

Barney and Ruby, horse and mule, came down the driveway in a big black trailer filled with saddles, blankets, and halters. I had everything I needed and I was absolutely in love. As a horse crazy girl, I refused to ride the mule but Barney was a dream. He was fast, he was solid but most of all, he was mine. At least for awhile. 

  
Six month later, that trailer went back up the driveway and I sobbed like a baby. 

Another six months went by, and the trailer was back. Barney officially became mine. I now realize how generous that guy was and I couldn’t thank him enough. 

Barney was that once in a lifetime horse.

At 26 years old, Barney carried me in my first rodeo. I was a freshman in high school, riding in a roping saddle with stirrups that were too long and bridle that would make most barrel racers laugh in my face. It was a small indoor arena and we were the only stock trailer in the parking lot besides what they hauled the bulls in. Barney ran with his whole heart and we won. 

  
Barney carried me in rodeo after rodeo and never faltered. At the end of the season, we ended with a belt buckle and a breast collar. 

But that wasn’t the reason I loved him. When he came out of the arena, he would prance like a young colt. When I swung off him, he would drop his head and calmly follow me where ever I wanted to go. When I opened the trailer at home, I would slip his halter off inside and he would follow me to the field. 

  
Barney was my solid rock in high school. He got me through tough days and carried me when I needed him. I rode him the day my dad left for Iraq and sat in his field the day of my grandpa’s funeral. 

Eventually the years caught up to Barney and my younger horse started to beat him up. The field next to our house became is permanent home. Each morning and night, he would be waiting by the gate for his grain. He loved feeding time. Some days, he would run through the field and roll, just like his younger years. Other days, he would stand in the sunshine and not move all day. 

Those days became more and more frequent. His joints got worse and watching him walk almost brought tears to my eyes. I knew his time was coming and I begged him to make the decision on his own. I prayed the one day, I would find him laying the pasture, finally at peace. But that day never came. 

Finally, I told dad that this was the weekend. It was Barney’s time. I had to go to work on Friday, knowing that this was Barney’s last day and act like nothing was happening. I went out with friends that night and none of them understood. 

That night when I got home, Barney was standing by the gate. I walked over to him and petting him nose, begged him to not leave the decision to me. His big brown eyes stared into mine and I eventually went inside. 

The next morning, I struggled to get out of bed, knowing what the day would hold. As I sat down for breakfast alone, I asked mom where dad was. Avoiding eye contact, she told me he was outside. I couldn’t finish breakfast. I found dad covering Barneys body with cedar logs on a wooden structure that was fit for a king. We drag our dead cows deep into the woods, but that wasn’t good enough for Barney. As dad lit the fire, tears streamed down my face. Gone were his days of stiff legs and swayed back. After a life full of love and teaching, Barney was finally where he belonged. 

~Nicole
  

 

Dear Subway: We’re done. 

Dear Subway, 

Our relationship has been pretty rough lately. Ever since you announced that you are moving away from meats with antibiotics, we’ve been on the rocks. 

   

Now, every time I watch The Voice, I have to endure commercial after commercial of how your chicken is healthier because it was raised without antibiotics. I even heard your commercial on my favorite radio station, right between a commercial about supporting National Ag Week and the market reports. 

Honestly, your marketing is doing a great job. Every time, I see or hear your commercial, it makes me want to eat Subway less and less. And I’m not going to lie, I used to eat your sandwiches a lot! I went to your store at least twice a week in college and I’ve always been a sucker for your macadamia nut cookies. 

But not anymore. I understand the want to be healthier. But this isn’t healthier than chickens raised with antibiotics! The way I see it is that you are just using fear marketing and the current trends to sell more sandwiches. 

I can safely say you have lost a customer. Do you know why? Because I raise beef cattle that are treated with antibiotics when they are hurt. Not because they will grow faster or produce more. We treat our animals with antibiotics because they are sick, because they are hurt, but most of all, because we want to give them the best life they can have. 

  
Believe it or not, farmers are not mad scientists injecting our animals to produce more money. We are people. People with feelings, people with hopes, people with a passion for what they do every day. 

And you are attacking my passion all to earn more money. If you were a true advocate for what you sell, you would be promoting all agriculture. Not just what makes you the most money.

But I would give you one more chance, if you could just answer this one question. Why, Subway? Why are you marketing about something that is healthy both ways? Why are you using fear marketing? Why did you fall to current trend pressures? 

To the consumers reading this: I beg you to do research before you believe advertising. Find credible sources and dig for answers. Many farmers are more then willing to explain every aspect of their farms and lifestyle to you. You just have to ask! 

And if anyone has a good macadamia nut cookies recipes, I sure could use it. 

Sincerely, 

Nicole 
 

Foggy Monday Mornings

Do you ever have those days where you look outside and your mood matches the weather? My morning was exactly like that! The time changed this weekend and boy was it hard to wake up on this Monday morning! I looked out the window and fog covered the landscape. I could not even see the fence around our yard. I was finally able to drag myself out of bed, and to work. I let myself into the school and walked to my room, my mind occupied about what was going on today and what I needed to complete before school started. As I flipped my light switch on, all I saw was a big black mass flapping in front of my face! A bird had made its way into my classroom over night! So naturally, as this was happening, I screamed and shut my door quicker than I have ever moved! Luckily, the bird had stayed next to the window and only left me a couple of presents below the window on the floor.

IMG_9464

I made my way down to the janitors and told my funny story. We all had a good chuckle and they removed the bird. Never did I expect my morning to start out like that! But it was a great reminder that yes it was a Monday, and always be prepared for the unexpected. Maybe I need to invest in a dip net for my classroom.

May your Monday be fabulous!

-Bethany