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May 26, 2011

Food - Where I Come From

So I am really excited about this project 





I love Gooseberry Patch books - I think I own about 40 - between cookbooks and Country Friends books.  My 2 all time favorite go-to recipes came from their books and I have made them sooo much I have them memorized!
But I'll be honest I am nervous too!  For my loyal readers reader you will notice that I don't post recipes - I love to cook and bake - Chris says I am pretty good, my kids complain (but I try to ignore them they think junk food is an actual food group) but I take awful pictures of the food - it tastes really good, it looks good on the table but the pictures turn out awful so I just don't post them.  Not to mention that my kitchen is always a mess and so the pictures of the process - well aren't pretty either!  I know I did the interview for my voting post on The Real Farmwives of America that told a little about where I learned to cook but I thought I might share more so that you all know how important food and family and the combination are to me and that I cook everyday, that I have never made anyone sick, that I actually enjoy the cooking part (you will see in my pics later not so much the cleaning part) but I just don't take good pictures of food!

A few years ago (well actually probably 7 I just didn't get it finished for 5) I put together a family cookbook for my Mom, MIL, sisters (yes Lisa I consider you a sister not just a SIL) and my Grandma.  It was fun, it was more than just recipes it is full of memories!  I started off with pics of all of the girls with our "first" kitchens, followed by every one's top 10 food memories and then recipes (handwritten by the person) from 3 generations of women on both my side and my hubs side, plus my Dad's famous homemade ice cream recipe and my FIL favorite snack recipes!  I posted it on my blog so you can check it out!

This is what the "forward" (doesn't that sound professional") says:

Here it is - finally - our family cookbook: You Cook, I'll Entertain

I call it that mostly for lack of a better term I don't really expect it to be used as a cookbook but rather as the title implies some"entertainment" and tidbits about our family regarding food!

I do love to cook and I still hate to set the table, put ice in the glasses and do the dishes!  I was hoping that one day the kids would do this for me - but keeping with tradition, if I ask Casey to do it she goes straight to Emi Lou or Cole and tells them I have asked them to set the table!  I don't specifically remember Mom teaching us how to cook but figure that is where I learned what I know! Mom is the only person I know that can take two small carrots, a potato and hunk of frozen meat and have a full meal for five grown (hungry) men in less than 30 minutes, and never fear there will be dessert - she could turn "one schribbled apple" into apple pie with on hand tied behind her back!  She always says we are welcome for supper anytime -"but we arent' having much"!  I think Bunk says it best "Every meal at Grandmas is a huge Thanksgiving feast!"

I appreciate now how much work family dinners can be and how important they truly are!  I am very lucky to have married into a family that knows that importance as well!  I love getting together for meals - big meals, cookouts, pizza - the food is always different but the goal is the same - being together!  Each of you are such awesome cooks we never leave any of your homes disappointed!  I wanted to put this book together for several reasons - you each have special recipes that are uniquely yours - we can follow the recipe but they don't taste quite the same as when you make it!  I wanted them in your handwriting because I think it truly makes it yours and hopefully that our kids will look at it someday with the happy memories of family meals that I have!

Family dinners to me are so much more than the food (don't get me wrong food is important and always delicious around here), I painted a saying on my kitchen wall that you can really only read when you are sitting at out kitchen table:

"It isn't so much what's on the table that matters as what's on the chairs"
I actually found this quote about 10 years ago in a Gooseberry Patch cookbook and I love it - this is exactly how I feel when I sit at my kitchen table to eat with friends and family!

So I can't wait to get started cooking out of Church Suppers, actually we have all sat down and flagged our favorites, but if my pics don't turn out very good please don't blame the cook blame the photographer!

May 20, 2011

"Up through the ground . . .

. . . come a bubblin' crude, oil, that is, black gold, Texas tea"  That is all that was running thru my head originally when I was trying to come up with a clever title for this post - but once I sing this for some reason it always turns into an Easter hymn we sing at church "Up From The Grave He Arose" - "with a mighty triumph over his foes" (sorry had to finish) and then after about a verse and a half of belting this at the top of my lungs I swear I saw a "SQUIRREL" run by . . .

Anyway back to the original reason for this post:  gold - Red Gold!  You see this year My Dad and Mom, Brother (Chris- yes the same name as my hubs) and SIL (Lisa - yes my hubs sister and my brothers wife)  - do you see why I am so easily confused and distracted? are raising tomato's for Red Gold!  Pretty cool!  So I went over there the other day to watch them plant and thought I would share!

Authors (that's me) disclaimer:  This is based on my uninformed guessing limited knowledge - if I have mislead anyone I apologize, please keep my stupidity quiet and if I have taught you something please shout it from the rooftops for everyone to hear!




So here is a tomato setter:

You run it at a whooping 1 mph!

The tank on the front holds mostly water with some fertilizer in it, when the plants are dropped in the ground some of the water/fertilizer is put on.

This setter takes 7 guys working in it - 6 sit in the seats and drop the plugs in the feeder that puts them in the ground and the guy standing puts full flats of plants in front of the setters when theirs is empty.  There is also a guy who walks behind the setter checking to make sure all the plants are in the ground properly to grow!




This is the back and the racks that hold the tomato plants waiting to be set!



The tomato flats come in this beverage trailer - this is full of flats of tomato plants!


This is the closest I have ever been to tomato planting - there is one other family farm in Shelby County that has been raising tomato's for Red Gold for years.  I am excited to watch the plants grow, they have to be sprayed alot over the summer and I am excited to watch them harvest them.




Now I am in the mood for salsa - wonder if I could talk my brother into planting some jalapenos and onions too!

May 18, 2011

Bring me my brown pants!

I have a sister, I love my sister - it only took me 20 years and 900 miles to learn this!  We spent the majority of our childhood at each others throats or as our younger brother would say "butt fighting" - but then he was also the one running down the hall as a small child yelling "I get to cut the cheese"!

My sister is always there for me (well expcept during tax season) all I have to do is call!  So today when I was an emotional wreck (sprinkling, overcast, cold, planter not moving) I decided to give her a call, because she always listens to me whine and feel sorry for myself!

The conversation started like this:

Her: Hello

Me:  Hey (very low and depressed) whatcha doin?

Her: Nothin'!  I was going to call you today but figured you guys were in the field and you were busy!

Me:  Not hardly, it's rainy, cold, wet, overcast blah blah blah blah blah

Her:  So has Chris asked for his brown pants yet?

That's all it took - I burst out laughing, the tension melted and the depression lifted (it was either what she said or the meds kicked in) - there is nothing like a good "potty" joke to make me smile!

This joke is a family favorite, My lil' Farmer has been telling it since he was 5! 
I laugh EVERY time!

video


So I called Chris and asked if he was ready for his brown pants and he assured me he wasn't - I on the otherhand am pretty sure my brown pants are in for a workout if we don't get back in the field soon!

May 17, 2011

A Tale Of Two Sows

One sow in our current farrowing batch is different. She was incorrectly identified as open, or not pregnant, and placed back in the breeding barn, where she spent 5 weeks on the eligible female list, then a few weeks on the "guess we need to cull her list", and then was finaly placed upon the "I made a mistake she is pregnant after all list". She spent most of this time in a large pen with 5 to 7 other sows, fed in a group. The other 19 sows in her farrowing batch spent their gestation period in our individual gestation crates, being fed individually.

This is her, sow 929.

She is in good condition, maybe a lttle thinner than the other sows, but not much.
This is sow 937. She spent her gestation in an individual crate. She is in very good condition. These two sows farrowed the same day, and each had 12 pigs. But....
....929's pigs were tiny. The smallest only weighed 19 ounces. Her average was less than 2 lbs per pig.
This is a pig from her litter.
937's pigs were much larger, averaging over 3.6 lbs each, with little variation. Here is one of her pigs.
Here is the rest of 937's litter.

These two sows are the same genetic line, and nearly the same age. Would this always happen? Probably not. Some sows are better at fending for themselves in a group housing situation, but sow 929 did not get quite enough to eat in her group. She was likely less aggressive when feeding time came, and always was a little short, though not enough to hurt her condition noticably. Her pigs are very much smaller and weaker, which can hurt their survivability. With gestation crates, we can tailor each sows daily meal to their individual specific needs, and eliminate the problem of more aggressive sows chasing the more timid ones away from the feed at feeding time. And those aggressive sows always get too fat as well. We went to gestation crates from loose group housing to improve the health and nutrition of our animals, which they did, and sow 929's pigs would have likely been larger at birth if she had been housed in one.

May 14, 2011

The TurboTill, A Midget and 74.5 Golf Balls

This is me - today I ran the 8420 with the Turbo Till,

this was my lovely co-pilot - My Midget!  She has a ton of energy and talks A LOT but she is really good help!



So with her energy I made her be the one to get out and move rocks, and there were quite a few and she never ran out of energy!

And when she would not stop talking I asked her to get out and pick me some flowers while I went a few rounds in peace and quiet (but then I had to move my own rocks)!


The field is close to a golf course, she can spot a golf ball a mile away and stuck in a clod of dirt!  So I told her she could pick up any she found - but I would of never got the field done if I had to keep stopping so she asked to get out and walk around looking - she kept bringing them back to me to put in the tractor - she found 74 and a half (it had been cut in half by the finisher), they are currently being washed in the bathroom - why I don't know and am too tired to care!

May 13, 2011

The Last 48 Hours

Consisted of:
Getting some seed in the ground!


The wheat getting sprayed with fungicide.

A quick trip to my Dad and brothers to watch them set tomato plants for Red Gold!

Working a lot of ground!

Cleaning the Cheetos out of my truck that have been there since the cattle show a couple of weeks ago!

A lot of spraying burn down!

Riding in every tractor that was moving!

Setting up our new Baseline!

Actually getting my picture taken!

Cleaning fence rows and fixing fence to turn cows out, back to back softball games, a 2nd grade field trip, gymnastics practice, a flat tire on a tractor, getting said tire fixed, feeding kids at 9pm putting kids to bed and going back out to get Chris at the field, letting My Cowgirl drive her Dad's manual transmission truck without having a heart attack, picked up the rest of my flowers for landscaping and tonight finally parking my truck at 8:30 to come in and start supper!

And it's just the beginning!

May 11, 2011

Conversations With My Kids!

Casey (aka My Cowgirl) Age 15

The other day she walked in the door and says to me in all seriousness:

"Oh my gosh Mom you know Kanga on Winnie The Pooh?  She has the little kangaroo baby named Roo?  When you put Kanga's name with Roo's name it is kangaroo!!!!!  Isn't that cool?"



I gave her a blank look and walked away!  It was either that or call her a moron - I chose to walk away and then mock her publicly on the my blog!


OK not so much a conversation but she really did say it!

May 10, 2011

Let's Talk Planting Corn

Might as well talk about since it is still to wet to actually plant any!

The longer equipment and farmers sit poised in the start gate the more "tweaking" they find to do to the equipment - but have no fear at a moments notice we are ready to spring (well maybe summer at this rate) into action and rush to the driest field where we will then spend hours lining out what can't be "tweaked" in the barn lot and then we will plant and plant and plant!  There are so many components to a planter that actually have to be moving and working to be sure they are set right - are all units putting out seed, at what rate, are all the spray nozzles spraying, are they spraying an even pattern, is the monitor picking up all rows, etc. etc. etc.

Today was actually dry enough for Chris to bring the planter down behind the house and test it!  He had to test in the grassy horse lot behind our house - but it is tested and retweaked!

We plant with a John Deere 4630 equipped with an E-Drive and a Kinze 16 row planter - all our corn will be planted with this and some of our beans as well.


Folded out in the barn lot and tweaking -

Chris and his Dad, well tweaking -

and still tweaking!

Finally folded out and testing!



Checking that the press wheels are aligned with openers!

The inside of the cab - that is a lot of monitors to watch and he has to keep answering his phone because I keep calling and seeing how he's getting along!




 So we officially have .9 acres of corn in the ground - just not in the right place!  So I am knocking on wood that it doesn't rain tonight - notice I didn't say "stop raining" because you NEVER want to do that otherwise it will stop alright - just about the time we really need it!

May 8, 2011

A Memorable Mother's Day

This was taken 2 years ago - Mother's Day 2009


But my most memorable Mother's Day was 1999 - it wasn't my first Mother's Day it was actually my 3rd!  That year we were about to finish up corn planting, we had one farm left right around 100 acres and Chris was determined to get it done!  He had asked me earlier in the week what I wanted for Mother's Day and I had told him what I really wanted more than anything was for him to take more pictures of me and Casey!  So Sunday morning he said to pack a lunch for all 3 of us and he handed me my gift - a couple of frames and a disposable camera!  We all 3 loaded up in the truck and headed to the field to plant - just the 3 of us working together - I ran the finisher all day and he planted corn - Casey took turns riding with us, when she got bored in one tractor we switched her to the other tractor and every switch we made he would whip out the disposable camera and snap a picture.  He took more pics of me that day than the first 7 years we were married combined.  We had a ball and we got corn done!

Casey is standing in the door window just grinning from ear to ear!

She was so good that day for having to spend all day in a tractor!


Did I mention she was 3 years old, full of energy, questions and liked to sing the same song repeatedly?
Did I mention I was 7 months pregnant that day?

Did I mention I wouldn't trade this Mother's Day for diamonds, ruby's or pearls - not even for a million and one pictures - it truly is one of my all time favorite memories. Maybe because I like to hold it over Chris' head that I was 7 mo. pregnant and working with a 3 year old it is tangible evidence that ours is a way of life not just a job and together we can accomplish anything!

May 6, 2011

I would rather. . .

. . .powerwash a hog barn (even farrowing) than clean a bathroom!

. . .muck out a barn with a pitchfork (not using the skid steer) by hand than gather, sort, wash, dry, fold and put away laundry!

. . .AI sows than clean the kitchen!

I hate housework, sometimes my Mom even has to bring her bucket of magic cleaning supplies over and help me (yes I realize that is pathetic).  Once (true story) my kids were little and my Mom had been here cleaning helping me clean earlier in the day, when the kids got home they walked in the house and they said "What is that smell?", I honestly had to look my children in the eye and say "uh, cleaning supplies" they said "Wow they smell good you should use them more often" - out of the mouths of babes (who are lucky to still be alive after that)!

But more than anything I would rather do all of the above and get to be the "stay-at-home farm hand Mom" that I am!  So this Mother's Day my hat (and Chris bought me a new really cool one) goes off to all the Mom's that work in and out of the home and manage to do it all (or at least fake it like me)!  YOU ALL ARE AMAZING!

But to my Mom I say "THANK YOU" a million and one times (maybe more since I am sure I didn't say it enough growing up) for all you have done for me in my life!  My Mom taught school for 28 years, kept the books for the farm, cleaned the house, did the laundry, raised 2 awesome amazing kids and my brother (JK he is almost as amazing as me and my sister - he did marry good and has 4 great kids), cooked every meal (including all the meals she took to the field), there was always something sweet on the counter when we got home from school and supported us thru EVERYTHING!

This is where I would post a picture of my Mom - but as a present to her I won't - she hates having her picture taken!

So instead I will post a picture of what she loves most - her grandchildren!


Casey, Bunk, Emi Lou, Abi, Molly, Ellie, Alli, Cole, Andi, Cade - the first 10
and not to forget

Cash!
Born after the pic of all of them was taken!

I LOVE YOU MOM