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August 27, 2012

Things I could do . . . .

. . . if stranded on a desert island with only the contents of the cubby under the stairs!

So yesterday I was running out the door on my way to church when I couldn't locate the exact pair of sandals I wanted - I have critiqued my wardrobe here but I do have clothes that I wear to church, weddings and funerals - such as the pair of sandals I couldn't locate.  I had looked everywhere (at least twice) and finally decided if I wanted to really find them I was going to have to dig deep and I mean really deep - like deep into the bowels of our home - the dreaded cubby under the stairs!

I do not have a before picture but this ALL came out of that hole under the stairs - so yes it full, crammed all the way to the top, precariously stacked to explode at the mere brush of an arm headed out the door - but I wanted those sandals - so in my haste I flung it all on the floor and there it has laid for the past 24 hours and the shoes weren't there - but I must clean it up today as Chris has threatened to divorce me that is what a good and loving house wife does and we can't get out to the garage until I do!

So I sent this tweet out into the world this morning:

 "Breaking News: there has been a Carhartt avalanche or possible explosion from the cubby under the stairs-no injury's reported so far but I am headed into the rubble for cleanup if you don't hear from me soon send in the rescue team or at least the dog w/the keg of rum around his neck!"

and then I put on my steel toed boots and my hard hat and dove into the rubble!

But I hate cleaning and the farther I dug in the rubble and into the bowels of our home - as once the junk is removed this cubby has a door that ventures into Narnina Hell the bowels of our home the space underneath the stairs that also houses a variety of things that have not seen the light of day in years - so I made it a game!

I Present You

Things I could do if stranded on a desert island with only the contents of the cubby under the stairs

Let's begin shall we -

I could fit an entire family for the winter on a farm!  That's right folks I have located 8 pairs of insulated and 2 pairs of uninsulated (for those fair weather days) of Carhartt coveralls; as well as 11 Carhartt work coats for various changes in temperature; they are in an aray of sizes starting with a large man all the way down to his youngest child!  Now all hanging neatly in the garage-this won't last long once it gets cold!

I could break and groom a calf!

I could seal up my palm leaves shelter and provide light - well some only 1 out 3 work!  After that I could paint it with a choice of two different colors and stain the wood as well!

I could have an Easter Egg hunt!

I could outfit 4 kids with ski clothing! (none of which fit my kids anymore!)

I could dress as an Agri-Gold seed salesman and still have "goodies" to give away to my customers!  The deeper I got I found 2 more jackets and 2 more ski caps!

I could put shoes on all the kids in a third world country!

I could slide on a classic pair of black Justin Ropers and a Comfy and head out two-stepping!

I could play a game of ball!  Softball or baseball either one!

I could start an FFA chapter!  I found Chris' FFA jacket in the cubby (don't ask-I don't know)!

In this pic alone I could wash a camper; go swimming safely; fly a couple of kites; hem a pair of pants (that's a roll of heat bond hemming tape -don't ask cause I don't know!) and do a little math!

I would have bacon!

Kindling for a fire!

I could get a tan and jam to some Jimmy Buffet!

I could  - well I have no idea what I could do on a deserted island with winter hats

or with all these gloves - half of which didn't have mates!

And lastly and I swear this was in there
at the very back and I was playing this game in my head long before I found this

A PARROT - to keep me company on my deserted island!

And what you may ask did I do with all the stuff scattered all over my kitchen?  Well there was some stuff I threw away: shoes without mates, gloves without matches, empty paint cans . . . .!  There was a large bag of things to donate to Good Will!  And then there were a few items I couldn't bare to part with but didn't need in the least so I merely put them back into the bowels of our home as a time capsule - so that in 10 years when I decide to clean the cubby out again they will be there for the memory's - and yes the parrot went back in!

And what did I get for my troubles:

57 cents, a tractor muffler and a pair of finger nail clippers-which in this house is a real find

and at least till morning a clean back hallway!

Oh and I never found the sandals I was looking for!

August 22, 2012

Pie Crust Confessions

I might have a 'sweets' problem - sometimes it is cookies or brownies, sometimes cakes or cupcakes, sometimes ice cream & sometimes pie!

I might sometimes eat my 'dessert' before my supper!

Which leads to:
I might be impatient!

Which then leads to:
I might be a poor housekeeper, which def. includes the kitchen!

Which leads to:
I might not use homemade pie crust!

OK the first four confessions were probably just true statements to anyone who knows has randomly met me but the last one might surprise a few, than again maybe not - so let me bring them all together:

Because I love sweets and I eat them randomly thru the day (when the urge hits-wow I would not survive on the new USDA school lunch program) and because I am extremely impatient and because my kitchen counter is always a mess (no clean surface to roll out pie crust) - I just don't make it - I . . . . . . buy it!

I DO - there I said it!

My name is Jennifer and I use boughten pie crust.

I have handwritten recipes from both of my Grandmothers of their Mothers pie crust recipe and am positive I could get the same from Chris' side of the family (and they are delicious -flaky and light) but when it comes right down to it I fall victim to instant gratification when it comes to my pie intake!!!!

So this is the brand I use - the only brand I use and they keep a long time in the freezer and thaw pretty fast!
It is flaky, buttery, yummy - they come 2 to a package already rolled out in a circle - the only disadvantage to this is my kids will never know the magic of miniature pie crust cinnamon rolls but it is a small price they pay for my impatient pie desires!

I have no real recipe for a fruit pie (oh quit rolling your eyes at me Emily!) - any where from 4-6 cups of berry's or fruit, 1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar, several tablespoons flour or cornstarch (whichever you grab first or is closest) - stir that all together and put in your pie crust!  I always put (dots, pats or slabs-whichever your in the mood for) some butter on top of the filling and then cover with the second pie crust - cut some vents - like slits or some shape to let the steam out and slide'er in the oven - I always cover the edge of the crust too!  425 degrees for 15 minutes and then 375 degrees for 40-55 minutes depending on how done you like your crust - about 10 minutes before it is done I lightly rub some butter on the top crust (cause you can never get enough butter) and then sprinkle some sugar on that!

Now I would close with a picture perfect slice of pie on a pretty plate with a fork but let's not fool ourselves a couple of things would have to happen for me to be able to do that:
1. the pie would have to cool!
2. I would not be able to sit down with a giant glass of milk and a fork with the entire pie in front of me and just eat out of the pie pan!

And let's be honest that just isn't going to happen!

August 21, 2012

Feeding Swine!

I should know better - I really should - but apparently I don't!

If there is one thing I pride myself on it is the fact that my kids know agriculture - at least more than most kids their age!  My kids have seen cows & sows give birth - both the joy and sorrow of it, they know "what it takes" to make livestock reproduce (although applying it to humans was somewhat beyond their comprehension), they know where their food comes from - both plant and animal, they know first hand the joys and heartbreak of living on a production farm - from not seeing their Dad for days on end during planting and harvest to the heartbreak of no rain to the hard work (physical & mental) each of us puts into our lifestyle.  My kids use words like castration, semen, artificial insemination, herbicides, pesticides - they know the difference between conventional tillage & no-till, mold board plowing & chisel plowing, the breeds of cattle and hogs, soil types . . . . . . and just as my heart is swelling with pride I am slammed with the reality that sometimes amidst all the technical things I have tried to teach my kids the basics have escaped me!

Cole started 4th grade last week and when he got off the bus the first day he was excited (OK fine I was excited) with his homework project!  Fill a brown paper bag with 5 things that tell us who Cole is!  My kids are responsible for their own homework - unless of course it is fun and something I want to do help them with, and this I def. wanted to help with!

So we start: 

1. Combine - although he ended up taking a tractor because "combines are my favorite but I don't want anyone touching and breaking them so I will just take a tractor"!
2. Cow and a pig - "livestock" - "but Mom those are 2 things"  I convinced him if we called them livestock together it was really just one thing!
3. Train book - he loves toy trains!
4. A 4-H ribbon
5. A book about the Titanic - he is fascinated by it and loves history so he thought that it represented both!

I He was happy with his choices!

Off to day 2 and he heads and the second he gets off the bus that afternoon I attack am casually waiting to here how his "sack" of things went only to be met with this conversation -

Me: "How was school today?"

Cole: "Good"

Me: "How did your get to know me bag go over?"

Cole: "Good - people had lots of questions about the livestock"

Me: "Cool - like what kind of questions?"

Cole: "Well Dillion (whose Dad is a vet!!!) asked if we had ever had swine flu!"

Me: "And so what did you say"

Cole: "Well what do you think I said???  I said 'NO We don't have swine' !!!!!"

My jaw dropped, I did the whole palm to forehead smacking thing, I stared at him in dumbfounded awe and then in a rather high pitched possibly somewhat panicked voice I said:

"ummmm what?  Yes we do what do you think all those animals are down at the barns?"

Cole: "HOGS MOM!"

Me: still in a somewhat high pitched voice  "They are swine - HOGS ARE SWINE!" 

Cole: "I have never heard Dad say 'I am going down to feed the swine!'"

And he walked away - not once offering to pick my jaw up off the floor, not looking back to make sure I was still breathing, not once giving any thought to the fact that he had just given my pride a direct kick - well in the castration area, which he knows all about but not that hogs are swine -

August 17, 2012

Manure Happens


I always see other people post on their blogs about what they are wearing that day and tend to get a little snarky (I like that word) - Chris says I am not snarky but just plain bitchy but I think snarky doesn't make me sound so mean so I go with it, even though I have a feeling those two words can be used as synonyms!

I am NOT a fashionista (a word I had never heard until I started blogging) by any means and I abhor shopping and my "job" by no means requires fashionable clothing - when I am being snarky about someones "what I wore to work today" post I always envision in my head what my post would look like:

On this particular day we were setting up stalls at the county fair - I tried to keep light and airy with just a hint of fun - as nothing is as fun as setting up stalls with 3 kids and a husband in 100 degree weather - so if you look good you feel good - right????

I am sporting a pair of used previously broke in  grungy pre-washed pair of Wrangler Men's Jeans cutoff that I purchased from Good Will a reputable 2nd hand store.  The pretty pink and white striped tank top is a cotton blend purchased straight off the clearance rack that was a steal off the sale rack at Wal-Mart a well known department store.  The black leather belt I basically use to hold up my britches up accessorized with was just something I pulled out of my closet.  I am not wearing any jewelry as I feel this outfit makes a statement all on its own!  Although not pictured I chose a nice pair of boots to accompany this outfit - I did choose a pair that already had manure on them as all of mine do I always believe in wearing appropriate footwear for the occasion.

There are days I don't plan for manure to happen and it does anyway!
I don't recall what my particular plans were from this day but I can tell by what I am wearing it was NOT to be covered in manure!

I am sporting a pair of Eddie Bauer jeans, my "good" jeans, that I purchased at the outlet in Edinburgh almost 5 years ago (tells you how often I need "good" jeans!  Paired with them I have a simple long sleeve almost burnt orange t-shirt with a turquoise flower tank top I snagged off the clearance sale rack at a high end department store (well Target but I consider that higher end than WalMart)!  The over sized rubber boots were a last minute selection from the pile of boots at the garage door (again always wear appropriate footwear) as Chris was hollering to please come give a bale of hay to the cows ("just quickly slip in the lot between 6 hungry huge cows in 2 foot of manure throw that bale in the feeder and sneak back out - no biggie you won't get dirty") - while the boots help complete the outfit next time I will find a pair that fits me and won't get sucked off my feet!

Most days I sport a pair of jeans and a t-shirt - I used to watch "What Not To Wear" and always got aggravated when they would tell stay-at-home Moms not to wear "house cleaning" clothes to town to run errands -do you know how many times a day I would have to change clothes if I didn't go to town in my "house" only clothes - once I begged Chris to call and nominate me for the show - he laughed hysterically and adamantly said "NO" -there was no way in h e double hockey sticks he was going to nominate me for wearing clothes that did not flatter me, even if I told him he could because he knew one day that could be used against him in a court of law!!!!

And speaking of jeans - WHY oh WHY can't they make jeans that cover people's bum???  The other day I saw an infomercial about a "band" of material that they wanted you to buy that you put over the top of your jeans so that when you bent down it would cover what the jeans didn't - WHY NOT JUST MAKE JEANS THAT JUST FIT!!!!!

But anyway back to my original reason for this post - the other day we got an invitation to a lunch at the Indiana State Fair for the Certified Livestock Producers Program -

as I walk down the stairs to leave with Chris he says "You look nice" and it occurs to me that I actually got to "dress up" and should blog "What I am wearing" maybe that will curb my snarky  bitchy  jealous attitude - so I made Chris take my picture!

I won't lie I was excited - I had just picked up these Wrangler jeans at The Outpost in Trafalgar, the white tank top is from Banana Republic at The Edinburgh Outlet Mall - you can't see it but the neckline has these silver strings of beads over white strips of material (kind of looks like a flower around the neckline - I am not doing the shirt justice but anyway it is really cute and I have been saving it because it is white and well I wanted to keep it that way so I only wear it on special occasions)!  The turquoise tank underneath is from Under Armour - paired with my bling belt and a pair of Ariat Fat Baby boots that I picked up at Tractor Supply on Black Friday last year - I chose them because they match my belt really well, are comfortable for walking and well, they had the least amount of manure on them! 
So off we went to The Indiana State Fair - Chris and I got there early enough to look around The Pioneer Village, check out Cole's electric project that earned state fair entry and then head to the Indiana Certified Livestock Producers Program luncheon!  We mingled, small talked and then got in line for the buffet - and that is when it happened - the gentleman behind me says
 "This is the best luncheon I have been to where everyone has manure on their boots!"
and it hit me:

No matter where I am going or what I am doing - I dress for manure!

August 12, 2012

I'll Fly Away

Today at Church we had a hymn sing, Emi Lou played & sang and we had a pitch-in - nothing makes me feel more blessed than when there is laughter in the church kitchen and it smells wonderful.

August 4, 2012

Drought 2012

I don't know if you have heard or not but there is a full fledged drought going on - no really there is and it sucks - I am so tired of the heat, the dust on everything and trying to stay light hearted and optimistic - I have never used the phrase "the elephant in the room" because until this year I didn't really comprehend it, but it is truly like having an elephant in the room and no one mentioning it for fear of complete depression setting in.

Chris and his Dad scout our fields regularly and he's always bringing in plants and corn to show me, so the other day I made him take me out and show me and let me take pictures of what is actually going on in the fields - yep it still pretty much sucks!

Chicks 58

This field was the last we planted, May 17. We walked into the better soils in this field.

This ear missed pollination, most likely due to extreme heat.

Looking down the rows you should by no means be able to see this far!

Chicks 11

This field is 100 yards away from the first field, but it was the first field we planted, April 12.
It has some corn in the low ground. These ears have a lot of rows, but are very short and kernels are very shallow. If this field was consistently like this, it might yield in the low hundreds, but this is the best area.

This is where the ear tipped back, or aborted kernels it had intended to set.


These beans were among the first planted, and this area is among our best soil types. Normally they would be chest high.

They are podded, but instead of 40 or more per plant, there is about 6,
and the seeds, which normally now are plump and swelled, are tiny.


This is some lighter soil we farm. There are no ears in this area. Doesn't even look like corn. Last time this field was in corn it made 200 BPA.

We finally found one.
But it didn't pollinate well. This field might yield in the single digits.


This field of beans became infested with spider mites in mid July. We sprayed them, and you can see new growth in the damaged areas, but they are having trouble recovered due to the lack of moisture.

Marietta 10

Here is a good ear, but the kernels will be very shallow and light. This field will be over a 100 bushels per acre.
This ear had a lot of potential,
but lost half of that potential due to aborting for lack of moisture.
A different ear of corn just a few plants down.


These beans are a lot taller
But they only have 9 pods at this point.
They did flower but aborted the flower to move on up the plant and when they aborted the flower no pod was produced.

Marietta West Hill

This field is across the road from the field I think will make over 100 above. It has more rolling ground.
It has ears. They look good.......but

another fooler. Looks OK till you peel back the shucks this field may make 30 bpa - truly no way to tell because we have never been in this situation as well as within each field the crop is so varied.

In 1983, and 1988, the most recent severe dry spells on our farm, our corn averaged in the 80 bpa range. I don't think it will be half that this year, but I hope I am wrong. We have had dry weather in smaller doses in other years more recently, but not as persistent as this year. We had 2.3" in May, which is a less than half of normal, but now sounds moist. We had no measurable rain in June, with very hot days, nearing 100, which came earlier than usual. July had more 100 degree days, and around 1/2" rain. This of course varies widely - these amounts are on our home farm where we measure, we also farm in a 15 mile radius, there have been a few fields in that area that have received more and some less.

We carry crop insurance, and it will prove it's worth this year for sure. Not all farmers carry insurance, as it is expensive, and many years isn't needed. Our challenge will be feeding our hogs. Not only will corn be hard to find if we don't grow enough, but it will be expensive. The hogs also eat a lot of soybean meal, which may double in price from what we paid in the winter of 2011. Our feed costs could easily be $90,000 higher than last year, and we are a very small hog farm. If we could stop the flow of hogs we would, but it is not something that can be shutdown overnight, or started back up easily. By the time the severity of this drought was realized, we already had 9 months of production in place, as from breeding to market is about 280 days. The pigs that will need 2012 corn are already on the farm, or are about to be born. We plan on toughing through it, so the farm is already in operation when things get straightened out. Corn will get cheaper, as 2013 supplies come available, and hogs might go up, as production is reduced. I would like to just turn off the switch for a few months, but that is not how it works.

I do however consider ourselves fortunate this year. I personally have not suffered this drought like farmers 100 years ago would have. I come in at  night to an air conditioned house that has water available on demand. I do not depend on my garden for my next years food supply, I will be able to find grain for my livestock, and move it here if necessary, it is only a matter of higher cost and inconvenience. The damage to us is purely financial, and a substantial part of that will be covered by our insurance, which has improved greatly in the past 20 years. The tools that we have available to manage our work are truly marvelous, and we are so accustomed to them we overlook them, and take them for granted. The tools of people 100 years ago all had handles, now we have switches, and steering wheels, and electric motors. $40 worth of garden hose will put water anywhere on the farmstead that we need it for a garden and/or livestock, we are not carrying buckets from the well, I am not out in the sun hoeing my corn, or forking loose hay onto a wagon.  We as a family still feel the physical and emotional toll this has taken but still consider ourselves fortuante and lucky to live this lifestyle that even during hardtimes we love.

This is how the drought affects us!  The cost of corn in a box of corn flakes is minor compared to the advertising, packaging, transportation, and labor to produce. But grain is a major expense in meat production. Feed often makes up 80% of the farm gate cost of milk, beef, pork and chicken. Cows are being culled as pastures dry up, reducing the future cattle supply. Not all sows will be rebred, as some producers exit the industry. Total meat supplies will probably contract, raising prices at the grocery.

 We can't tell you for sure how this years drought will affect the consumer but you have to keep in mind that farmers are consumers as well!