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.

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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

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The things they don’t tell you…

They don’t tell you how much you have to practice to learn to tie your shoes when your little… Wear cowboy boots instead.

They don’t tell you to be a good friend sometimes, others will disappoint you…so put your whole self out there.

They don’t tell you to get a good grade you will probably fail an assignment or even two… Stay up late and study anyway.

They don’t tell you pie crust is super hard to make… Call Grandma to find out her secrets.

They don’t tell you how hard it will be to move away to college… Call Mom and cry on her shoulder.

They don’t tell you how hard it is to sign a loan for your first brand new car… but it IS worth the money so you don’t break down like your Dad has been telling you for the post week.

They don’t tell you to grow up and make a life on your own is hard… It’s ok to cry when the going gets rough.

They don’t tell you that all these hard moments make like worth living. They make the little moments sweeter and the hard ones easier to bear. They don’t tell you with the love of your family and the support of your friends life  rolls on and those harder moments make up the fabric of your life and the person you will become.

-Bethany

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Thank You, To the Farmer’s Wife

My mom always said there was a love hate relationship to that four letter word. One day I finally broke down and asked her what word she was talking about! She looked at me and laughed and said, “Farming, and one day you will know what I mean.” You will love the time spent in the field, and look with pride at your hard work and accomplishments. But you will stress about making ends meet with the income doesn’t quite match the expenses. Or when your farmer tells you that you must be crazy for thinking you can take a vacation in the middle of hay season! You have to get that hay baled first!

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So today, I want to say thank you to all the farmers wives out there. They keep track of those receipts that never seem to quite make it out of the truck, drive a tractor, pull a calf, and most importantly keep their farmer in line. Many farms can succeed without the gentle touch of a farmer’s wife, but everything is better when you have someone else to share the laughs, hardships, and joys with it.

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The farmers wife constantly goes through team building activities with her husband. She gets sent to find wrenches or pull start a tractor. But no fear she gets him back when she needs help hanging pictures!

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From late nights to summer birthdays spend in the tractor they love spending time together on the farm.

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Thank you to all of the farmer’s wives that keep food in our grocery stores and keep our farmers happy. Have you told a farmer or farmer’s wife thank you today?

-Bethany

 

Soil Layer Cupcakes!

Are you a teacher or mom or a cupcake lover? This is fun activity just for you! My Ag Exploration class recently learned about the layers of the soil using cupcakes! During class we learn about the layers of the soil. Students discussed why soil is important and how it impacts their own lives. Then we get to the fun part!

I use cupcakes to re-enforce the concept! Using two boxed cake mixes I created cupcakes for my class!

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Make the cake mixes as directed on the back of the box. Who doesn’t enjoy watching some Hulu as you cook too!

 

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There are six soil horizons. Therefore, you divide the cupcake mix into six different colors, using food coloring to alter the color.

 

 

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Layer all the cupcakes in the same order. If you don’t get the same amount of each color it is not a problem. In class, we discuss how soil is different in different locations. Therefore, all the cupcakes are not the same!

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Place them in the oven!

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In class we use straws to take soil samples, discuss the layers, and review!

 

Check out the lesson plan and activity below for your classroom!

Soil Sampling with Cupcakes!

Enjoy!

-Bethany

January 27: National Chocolate Cake Day!

Who doesn’t love chocolate, and its even better when it is a moist triple chocolate cake! Today is National Chocolate Cake Day. What better way to celebrate?

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Any cake with pudding in the recipe is always a winner for me! I would love to take credit for this amazing recipe but I got it out of Mom’s cookbook and she printed it off of CooksRecipe.com.

Triple Chocolate Bundt Cake ( From CooksRecipe.com)

1 package Devil’s Food Cake Mix

1 four ounce package instant chocolate pudding

2 cups chocolate chips

1 3/4 cups water

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease bundt pan, set aside.
  2. In large mixing bowl combine cake mix, pudding mix, and chocolate chips. In another bowl combine eggs, water, and vanilla. Add eggs to dry mixture and stir. Mix into wet ingredients until well blended. img_7526
  3. Pour into pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes.
  4. Cool 15-20 minutes before removing from pan.

Hint: I take a butter knife and loosen the cake from the pan. Then I flip it over onto a plate to be able to slice and serve.

Enjoy!

-Bethany

 

 

 

The Untold Story…

When Nicole and I first started this journey as the Show-Me Sisters, we wanted to share our lives and passion for the agriculture industry. We wanted to show others the food we produce and they buy from the grocery story is healthy and safe. This may seem so easy to do, but the truth is most farmers are very private people. They want to raise their animals and harvest their crops in peace and not share the importance of what they do on a daily basis. So many consumers and individuals do not understand that farmers take pride in their work and produce the best and safest possible product.

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While Wes and I were in Mexico, we met individuals from across the globe, from many different backgrounds, and ethnic groups. When talking to new people the conversation always seemed to turn to what do you do for a living? Wes would reply that he farms and my answer would be I teach agriculture to high school students. We would normally get standard responses such as, “Interesting” or “Wow that sounds like fun!” Some people did go deeper and ask more about our chosen career paths and wanted to know what we grew and produced. These individuals were the most enjoyable to talk to! Most of them had an open mind and I felt like they walked away from us with a better understanding of what a farmer looks like. They can now imagine one when they pick up a bag of frozen corn or a pound of hamburger and place it in their cart.

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However, one couple started attacking Wes and I. “How can you afford to come to vacation in Mexico?” they asked in a very hostile tone. We simply explained that we had saved for it just like any other couple. They asked how much we made annually off of our products! We were shocked they would ask us such personal questions! Farmers and ranchers earned a median annual income of nearly $61,000 in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10 percent made about $107,000 a year, while the bottom 10 percent made less than $30,000. Keep in mind that these figures do not take into consideration the expenses, as well as uncontrollable factors. Many small farmers have incomes off the farm to help make ends meet and we are no different. They then attacked us about the price of food in the grocery story and how we must be getting rich, and that is the only way we could afford to be laying on the beach in January. Wes and I were shocked that someone would take out food prices on us! For every dollar spent of food only roughly 16 cents is given to the farmer. The remaining 84 cents is spent on moving that product from the farm to the consumers plate.

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Another individual spoke their mind during our supper on Monday night. While eating Hibachi with 8 other individuals, a lady spoke up to the man next to her and told him that Soy Sauce was not healthly for her family because it contained GMO’s. As I took a breath in to ask her if she knew what a GMO was, Wes poked me in the ribs and told me to not start anything. So I simply ignored her comment. As I thought more about the encounter later that night I realized that Wes was being modest about his career and the products he produces. In that moment, he was like most average farmers in America. They just want to be left alone to do what they love. If I could time travel, I would love to go back to that moment and simply engage the lady in a nice and respectful conversation about why she feels a GMO product is not healthy enough for her family to consume. When in reality her family is consuming products made from GMO’s already and she probably doesn’t even know it! A GMO or genetically modified organism has been around way before humans labeled it as a GMO. Breeders, farmers, and other individuals have been selecting organisms for their best traits and breeding them together for a desired offspring for many years. However, now we have a name for it. Am I scared to feed GMO’s to my family or suggest that others do the same? Of course not! These products have been studied and engineered and produced to create a safer and healthier food supply. They use less pesticides and herbicides. Some have the ability to resist disease and mature faster which helps feed our world’s growing population! The best outcome, in my opinion, is some products are even healthier than before with increased vitamins and nutrients. I hope that you take what I have said into consideration and do your own research. Do I expect everyone to agree with me? Of course not! But I would love for everyone to have an open mind about the time, effort, and awareness that farmers have when producing their products. If you would like more information check out the link below.

What is a GMO?

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There are many untold stories floating around in the world. The story of where your food comes from is one that is vital to every individual. Food is essential for our body. Without agriculture and farmers where would we be in the world today?

-Bethany

 

 

 

Why do we tag?

And I am not talking about hash tagging, but tagging cattle! Everyone ear tags their cattle a little different or at different times; and that is perfectly fine! Everyone makes a cake a little different also but the end result is normally the same, a wonderful yummy cake. Our result tagging cattle is also the same; a unique number is given to each calf or cow use to identify them!

Imagine a sea of black, black cute little baby calves. You can tell some of them apart because their face may be longer or they are a little smaller or have a bit of white on their belly.

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As you watch them play and run around you notice a larger black calf off by itself. It doesn’t look so good, he has a runny nose and he is not eating. You decide he needs a shot of antibiotics. You call the vet and get the prescription and dosage. When you go back to find the calf you have no idea which one he is!

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You want to be sure you give the correct calf the antibiotics! This is where ear tagging comes into play. We ear tag the calves a month or two after they have been born. When we ear tag them we also castrate the males, which means we remove their testicles in a safe manner. Castrating helps decrease the amount of testosterone in the males, which makes them less aggressive and creates a better quality meat . The decreased amount of testosterone leads to better marbling in the meat, higher quality grade, and a meat that is more tender.

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Once the calves have been ear tagged, we turn them back out with their moms.They will stay with the cows and drink their milk, eat hay, and a little bit of grain until they reach approximately seven months old. Then we will wean them or take them off of their mother’s milk.

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Once the calves have been ear tagged the ear tag is mostly permanent, unless the animal happens to tear it off or it becomes faded. If we have to re-tag the animal, we can simply cut the tag off and re-tag them.

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Ear tags help producers keep accurate records of their animals. It is important for producers to be able to identify their animals to provide a safe food supply to consumers! Have questions? Leave me a comment!

-Bethany

I am a FarmHER, not a farmer

I read a blog post awhile back that discussed how women in agriculture aren’t treated the same as men. She told a story of how she walked around a trade show and no one noticed her. She didn’t initiate conversation with any vendors unless they talk to her first. Therefore, no one tried to sell her anything or teach her about their services. And she was quite angry about it.

To be honest, I was quite angry at her.

A small part of me is angry because I have worked more trade shows than I can count and if you don’t make eye contact with me, smile or initiate any sort of conversation, then I immediately think you are just looking for the coozies, pens and t-shirts on my table.

But the large part of me was mad at her actions.  No one has ever gotten where they want to be by standing still or staying quiet. You want the respect in any industry you have to demand it.

In her case, she wanted the same respect that the male farmers around her got. Many women in agriculture do.

But, I don’t. 

I want the respect of a woman in agriculture.

I want the respect that doesn’t treat me like one of the guys. I want the respect that cuts back in the cussing in front of me. I want the respect that holds doors open for me and helps me load my feed.

I want the respect that the farmer’s mother taught him from day one. I want the respect that a woman in agriculture needs to demand.

That doesn’t mean I won’t drink whiskey at work parties and fit in with the rest of the men. It means that I will wait for them to open the door for me and call them out when their jokes offend me.

As a woman in agriculture, I can do anything. I can load just as much hay as a man, even though it may take me a little longer. I can fix a broken hydraulic line but it will probably need to be fixed again soon. I can fight off an angry cow with as much gusto and fearlessness as any man.

But as a woman, I can do more than the average farmer. I can buck bales all day and still find the energy to feed a hungry hay crew. I  can go from caring for a newborn calf to holding a newborn human.

But most of all, I demand the respect I deserve. But I don’t demand it with words. I demand it with my actions, I demand it by asking questions and sharing my own knowledge. I demand it by being a successful woman in agriculture with dreams, goals and the will to survive.

I am a woman in agriculture. I am a FarmHER, not a farmer. What are you?

~Nicole

“Because I knew you..

I have been changed for the good.”

Mom took Nicole and I to see Wicked at the Fox Theater for Christmas. As we were listening to the songs and the plot unfolded, one song really stuck with me. It was the song “For Good.”

Wicked – For Good (with lyrics)

With the start of second semester of school this song rings true to me each and every day. As a teacher, I have the impact on students and I get to choice whether or not it is good. Not only do I have the opportunity, but Nicole and I also try to change individuals minds about the agriculture industry. If we, and others, don’t speak up those around us will be changed. But who can say they have been changed for the better? By educating others about our passion, agriculture, we hope to help them in return and mold them into who they will become.

    

I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you…
Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good

As you read through the lyrics you can see how each and every day we have will change someone and it is up to us to decide whether it will be for good for not.
My challenge to you, at the start of the new year, is to think of this song and its lyrics each day you roll out of bed. You will change somebody each day, whether you realize it or not. Who can say if you have changed them for the good?
-Bethany

 

Just Average Agvocating

I was talking to Dad about what Bethany and I were blogging about the other day and his first response was “you will need written consent to share things about me”. He meant it as a joke, but it’s exactly how many farmers feel. Why are we so scared to share our story? Do we have things to hide? Of course, not! 

As the next generation of farmers, we have a great challenge. We are not only dealing with less land and more people, we are tasked with a growing confusion of where food comes from and the safety of it. But I know that each and every one of us is ready for the challenge. 

Why am I so confident? Because of that thing you are currently reading on. Yes, your smart phone! For those of you using your computer, you can use that too! We are the generation of technology and we have to use it to our advantage. 

Now I’m not asking each of you to go start a blog or make a Facebook page. I’m asking you to be an AVERAGE Agvocator. 

An average agvocator doesn’t have to change the world, or even change their community. We just have to influence a couple of people with the positive truth of agriculture. Once infected with our passion, it’s impossible not to pass it on! 

See a blog post that sparks your interest? Share it and start the conversation with your friends! Did you get a new tractor, horse or chicken? Post a picture and start a conversation! Is your corn coming up or your pumpkins blooming? Tell everyone about it and invite them to see it! 

Notice a trend here? All you have to do is START THE CONVERSATION. Americans are becoming more and more displaced from the farm and it’s our job to connect  them again. What better way to connect with them than with what they are already connected too? 

As farmers, we are fiercely protective of our way of life. But as an average agvocator, we have to remember that we may not always see eye to eye with the people we are sharing our story with. But we can’t attack and shut down! We have to embrace the differences and just agree to disagree.

Instead of getting defensive, show them your passion! Invite them to your farm to talk in person. Offer to talk to the on the phone about their questions. Show them pictures! 

But most of all, DON’T HIDE. We have nothing to hide. Bethany and I blog to open the lines of communication with people who want to know more about what we do. We are just two average agvocator with dreams of becoming awesome.

We are also known to keep to our own business. We can’t do that anymore! Others are speaking out against us and we have to stand up and fight back. We may be the minority, but we are also the mighty! 

So what are you going to do? Share your story and fight for your passion? Or just let others do it for you? The Show Me Sisters are average, what will you be?

~ Nicole