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March 5, 2015

Some days it's a struggle.....

.....just to put on real pants!

I'm not kidding - I'm not even talking dress clothes - tights, panty hose, dress pants, spanx, dresses, high heels - I'm just talking jeans!

And I love jeans, I once even had made my wishes known I wanted to be buried in jeans!  I have since changed my mind - I have a friend who was a undertaker, was as in he does something else now not 'was' as in he needed his own undertaker - but I digress!  Did you know to get jeans on a 'past' person most of the time they have to cut the seem out of the butt?  I've spent the majority of my adult life trying to keep my ass in my jeans I decided I didn't want to spend eternity with it hanging out!

My job is even more casual than casual Friday yet there are days the thought of wrestling into a pair of jeans makes me cringe!  So much so that the other evening, say 4pm- that is considered evening right? - I had to take Emi Lou to softball practice and I was already wearing my pj's.  As I walked out the door Chris said "Really?  I just hope you don't have a wreck?"  I told him I was wearing clean underwear - that's what I was always told about being in a wreck - pray you have clean underwear - no one ever said anything about what kind of pants you were supposed to be wearing!

Boots and PJ's - I think if we stick together we can make this acceptable - who's with me?

But then I suck it up-literally and put my real pants on because really life is awesome!

March 1, 2015

What's it like working with family?

I love the saying:  The best part of my job is working with family, and the worst part of my job is working with family!

It's true!

Mother Nature put a nix in our plans the last couple of weeks therefore things didn't go as they should of!  Things always work out so well in my head!

Following a long two weeks of snow, freezing weather, hog work not going as planned, travel and arriving home at 1am Thursday night/Friday morning brought about a 2 hour delay for school (for which I am thankful-2 hours extra sleep) led to 2 days of hog barn work in not our usual fashion!

When weaning pigs timing is everything-it is imperative to follow a schedule strictly!  Our breeding, farrowing and weaning schedule is mapped out for years ahead of time.  Once pigs are weaned from a  sow, the actual taking the pigs off the sow or them no longer drinking her milk, will start her cycle again for reproduction, so to keep everything running timing is key.  We wean on Friday's so that those sows come into heat the following week, can be bred and will give birth again 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days later.

We were shorthanded this time and had to shake things up a bit to stay on schedule.  Cole took the Friday after school shift of helping move sows around in the gestation barn and pulling sows out of farrowing.  Emi Lou then helped Saturday with moving the piglets to the nursery barn.  Normally this is all done on Friday so this was a different way of working for us but will still keep us and the sows on schedule.

Working with our kids is amazing.  We work well as family but for Chris and I to get to work with them individually like this past weekend was a pleasure!

Emi Lou is our hog farmer -

We call her muscles-she is a strong willed hard worker!

February 10, 2015

Merry Country Christmas

Yep....you read that right.....Merry Country Christmas!

I know it's February, I know I'm late but sometimes it's just how I roll!

I love the Christmas In The Country gift exchange!

My secret box was filled with a plethora of goodies from Nicole at Midwestern at Heart!

And by goodies I mean almost all eatable-my kind of gift-so good were the chocolate crinkle cookies that I pulled out first that I immediately started eating them!  And then before I even finished opening the rest of the box and there was still cookie in my mouth and powdered sugar on my fingers I Facebooked Nicole, letting her know how much I appreciated the gift-even before I knew what else was in the box-what could go wrong with chocolate crinkle cookies on top!!!

After the chocolate crinkle cookies there was wagon wheel shaped pasta (gone the next day as my kids snagged it and ate in all in one sitting), some amazing cherry jam (which I hid and kept all for myself) and the cutest measuring spoons - they look like snowflakes!

Thank You Nicole - I so enjoyed my package!

Thank You so much to these girls - they probably won't let me play next year since my manners were so horrible this year!!

Laurie of Country Linked
Jamie of This Uncharted Rhoade
Erin of Diaries from the Dirt Road 
Robyn of The Ranch Wife Chronicles

January 22, 2015

Perspective Cropping

Ever wonder if your getting the whole picture?  My friend Nicole over at Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom had a Facebook status the other day saying that her brother told her jokingly that she made farmwife seem like all Skittle, rainbows and unicorn poop.....followed by the news that their first calf of the year had been born dead.

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!  I also know that if we didn't see 'skittles, rainbows and unicorn poop' most of the time we wouldn't still be on the farm!

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 Mushroom Chicken - great one dish meal

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!