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January 22, 2015

Perspective Cropping

Last Saturday morning as I was feeding the sunrise was beautiful so I of course snapped a pic on my phone - instantly Facebooked, Instagramed, and Tweeted......

"Good Morning from the hog barns!"

That evening as I was making last rounds I walked out of the gestation barn looked up and saw this....

"This was my view as I stepped out of the gestation barn tonight!  While I strongly dislike living so close to Indianapolis I love how the city lights silhouetted some of our bins!"

and of course instantly Facebooked, Instragramed and Tweeted!

This morning as I fed I walked out of the gestation barn looked up at the exact same point as I did last Saturday at the bins and realized I had no desire to take a pic!  It was like it was a totally different perspective.  It was a cold gray morning - and not the frosty, crisp, steely gray that is pretty but a dull gray sky and the ground is still slightly squishy.

I snapped this pic from the exact same point that I took it the other night and got a completely different feeling.  So I walked over to where I took the sunrise pic and snapped one of those and again a completely different feeling.

I can't believe what a different view it appears in this picture!  All I was thinking was one more load of fats, I really should of not worn my pj's under by coveralls cause not my pj's stink, need to remind Chris to fix the waterer at Fred's, we need new funnel cups in the gestation barn-do we have any or need to order some, who is going to wash the nursery before weaning tomorrow, should of mowed this lot one more time last fall............

I walked over to take a picture like the morning one and found the same feelings....

.......just a manure spreader that needs repaired, it's sitting next to the composter and not the kind in your garden but a 3 bay concrete composter for the barns  - no stunning sky in the background or filter......just a $h*t spreader, overgrown weeds and a gray sky.

All this 'connection' that people are getting on the internet is amazing, I'm the first person to admit that I am addicted to it.  But I wonder if we are getting the whole picture and without a filter!

One of my favorite sayings and a constant reminder to myself when I am perusing social media is:

Chris always says I wear my emotions on the outside, while that isn't always pretty I like the fact that when I look back on my posts and pictures I get the whole picture of my life and not just the highlight reel because it's what laying on the cutting room floor that makes you who you really are and usually bring the biggest laughs in hind sight!

January 4, 2015

Yep, weekends and holidays......

I get the privilege of feeding the livestock on weekends and holidays till Chris recovers from back surgery and I am really enjoying it!

I'm trying to think of the last time I was in charge of feeding solely by myself!  Now don't laugh I am under no illusion that I am actually in charge of anything but I have been following the instruction and do the physical act of all the feeding all by myself!

I love feeding throughout the holidays and in the winter.  While the weather is unpredictable it seems more relaxed, slower paced and can take a little more time in the barns.

I feed in my pi's most days!  When I know I am not going to spend most of the day in the barns I just throw on my Columbia wash pants, grab my barn jacket, boots and head out!  Hog barns smell-so I take care of the feeding and chores and clean up after - I'm smart like that!

I have learned several things the last few weeks while feeding:

  • I am terrible at slinging feed buckets.  I think I must not be strong enough, I tend to end up just dumping them.  I tried really hard to sling it the other day and ended up tossing the entire bucket into the pen of sows and hitting one of them on the head with the bucket!
  • Feeding livestock is easier than feeding my kids.  Pigs and cows aren't picky, they are excited to see me coming with feed and never turn their nose up or complain.
  • Sows in farrowing barn are getting 3 scoops of feed and my instructions said to give them a scoop of soybean meal if they looked too skinny to me.  Are my perceptions of a skinny sow different as a woman that that of what the guys consider a skinny sow?
  • Picking up deads will never get easier for me.  It is heartbreaking every single time.
  • I don't like to listen to pigs eat but could sit for hours listening to cattle eat.

And something I learned the hard way:  Kids really like to run augers, they will therefore fill the feed cart for farrowing barns to full for me.  I will then attempt to move it anyways and will spill it - only making more work for myself!

And lookie what I found Christmas Eve!
After a great family supper at my Mom's with family, Christmas Eve Service at Boggstown, Chris and I went down to make one last round through the barns and found a brand new litter of babies - just one of the many perks of my job!!

November 30, 2014

Let's Talk Turkey!

And not the leftover kind in your fridge - everyone knows about Thanksgiving turkey but what about that turkey sandwich in the middle of July?

I love to say that I have been in the midst of production agriculture my entire life - I live it, breathe it and write about it - but the amount I don't know always boggles my mind - so instead of answering a question I already knew the answer to I decided to ask a question and learn something new and share that!

How much do I know about turkey production?

I know a turkey farmer!
I have been in a turkey barn!

That about sums it up!

Who better to turn to than an actual turkey farmer - my amazing friend Katie who lives and raises turkeys on the banks of the Squaw Creek!

The turkeys arrive at the farm from a hatchery in Willmar, Minnesota-the birds are just one day old and only weigh a few ounces.  They get 20,000 baby turkeys every two months.  Their brooder house, where the turkeys live at this age, is kept at 90 degrees.

It will take about 20 weeks for the turkeys to be full grown and weigh approximately 43 pounds.  Katie says turkeys are a lot bigger than they used to be because of breeding and better nutrition.  There are no hormones or steroids used in turkey production.

Americans eat an average of 18 pounds of turkey every year!  Half of that is sandwich meat and that is what the turkeys Olthoff's raise are used for, "further processing" - this includes lunch meat, hot dogs, and other turkey products.

And truly the most interesting thing I learned: Turkeys have a weak immune system!

Bio-security is a big deal, even stepping in bird droppings between the house and barn is a concern so everyone in the family has barn boots that are only for the turkey barns or plastic booties for anyone else entering the barns.  And who knew, but chickens have a much stronger immune system so while a chicken may carry a disease without showing any signs if exposed to the turkey flock it could be devastating - so chickens are avoided by the Olthoff's at all costs!

She knows so much she even wrote a book about it!

It has two components: one part is written from the point of view of her six year old son and is meant for young children.  The other part is for older kids and adults, and gives more in-depth background information about turkey farms.

It's free to download on her site at On The Banks of Squaw Creek

"My Family's Farm has been a dream of mine for over two years, since I realized that there are very few children's book showing today's livestock farms.  Farms have changed over the past 50 years, but their portrayal has not.  This book is an effort to change that"  Katie Olthoff

Photo credit to Katie Olthoff

November 16, 2014

My Mom's Golden Chicken

And as I typed that title I realize that it sounds like my Mom has a chicken that is golden - however my Mom is not that lucky - if a chicken made of gold is lucky.........but I digress.

It is just what I have opted to call this childhood favorite dish that my Mom used to make!  We actually called it Golden Mushroom Chicken because this dish gets its flavor from Campbell's Golden Mushroom Soup - but my kids hate mushrooms, or so they think they do - MUHAHAHA!  So I just call this Golden Chicken and they eat it like it's going out of style!

I don't know why but spending hours in a tractor cab causes my mind to always be consumed with food and this fall this dish was a recurring craving.  I called my Mom to get the recipe and well basically she laughed at me - much like me she doesn't use recipes often - so together we figured out it was pretty straight forward and simple, threw the ingredients in a dutch oven, guessed at a time and temp and it tasted just like it did when I was a kid!

We ate this at home and in the field during the busy seasons.  It was so loved that when I once went to visit my sister in college at Texas A&M I was forced to sit the whole plane ride with a warm dish of it on my lap - TRUTH!!!

This is a one pot meal, I will tell you how much I used to feed 4 of us but it's so easy to throw in extra for a bigger crowd or less for fewer people - BUT this tastes awesome as a leftover!

Golden Chicken

  • 1 breast, 3 legs chicken - bone in
  • 4 potatoes - peeled & quartered
  • 7 carrots - peeled & cut into chunks
  • 2 onions - peeled & halved
  • 2 cans Golden Mushroom Soup
  • 1/2 can water
Cooking Directions
  1. Brown the chicken in a little bit of oil in your dutch oven
  2. Add the potatoes, carrots and onions to dutch oven
  3. Pour the golden mushroom soup and water over everything
  4. With lid on place in a 350 degree oven for 1.5 hours

This is a one pot meal, I will tell you how much I used to feed 4 of us but it's so easy to throw in extra for a bigger crowd or less for fewer people - BUT this tastes awesome as a leftover!

September 29, 2014

Her Senior Pictures

I think I was looking more forward to the day we did this than she was!  I like to think we had fun - at least I did!

I can't believe this was a year ago already - time flies when your having fun - and my life is so much fun!

September 24, 2014

Maybe I am not a good parent.........

I'm serious - and I have social media to thank for that!  I love social media, some, including my children and husband, would say that I am obsessed and addicted to it but I think I quit blogging this summer because of it!

Stay with me here - I have a million post-it-notes scattered all over my desk with various ideas scribbled on them - some Indiana Prairie Farmer article ideas and some blog post ideas!  When I tried to organize them I realized that the majority of my blog post ideas this summer centered around my oldest!

And, to be perfectly honest, after reading my Facebook feed all summer I got to feeling self conscious about almost every post being about just one of my kids when I have three!!!  Why?  Because the majority of people in my feed compliment their children as a whole and I felt that this seemed to be the 'Summer of Casey' - Casey's Senior Pics, Casey's Graduation, Casey's Grad Openhouse, Casey's 10th Year of 4-H, Casey Moves to College.  But then I remembered something I have been told my whole life - "just because I compliment your sister doesn't mean the opposite is true about you" and I have come to the conclusion it was the 'Summer of Casey' and while I should be and am proud of her it doesn't mean that my other two won't be in the center spotlight on their own terms one day.

I don't keep a scorebook of compliments for my kids, that isn't how life works.  I might be a bad parent because of it but just because I see one of my kids doing something that deserves a pat on the back doesn't mean I feel the need to come up with a reason to pat the other two on the back at the same time - each of my kids earns it in their own right and should be feel special when it happens, not just like it is another tally mark in their scorebook!

So be prepared for the "Summer of Casey" posts - and FYI she will hate it as much as you might!!!

June 12, 2014

Hi, My name is Jent.....

........and I am a bad blogger.

I have put this off for a long time now. Not to mention not even writing for a while now but The Gooseberry Patch cookbook giveaway winner has been chosen

I had a total of 39 People enter in the giveaway and sadly I only got to choose one. If I could I would give everyone who entered a cookbook. Many of you had lots of crockpots and that's impressive!  I have only one at a time - I say it like that because I have a bad habit of breaking the crocks and then just end up replacing the whole thing - Goodwill in Franklin probably has quite a collection of the empty warming/electric portions!

I choose a winner by numbering each entry off and had my kids pick a number between 1 and 39.

Congratulations Comment 14 -  Linda

Her comment on the Giveaway post was:
“I had 3 crockpots but one stopped working.....so I now have 2. Are they not one of the most wonderful inventions!!! Love them greatly :D And I love Gooseberry Patch Cookbooks <3 Hope to hear from you soon…” 

I wish everybody could have won a cookbook. Special thanks to everyone who entered!

If you missed any of the recipes I shared from this awesome book here are the links: