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December 30, 2013

Tangy Crock Pot Smoked Sausage Bites

If you are like me and wait till the very last minute to figure out what you are taking to a party you will love this recipe!

If you are nothing like me and always plan ahead then you will still love this recipe!

My Mom has been making this forever and I have absolutely no idea where the recipe came from but it doesn't really matter because it is AWESOME!  It requires 3 ingredients and very little time-as in less than 5 minutes and only a slow cooker!

Easy appetizer or snack - Tangy Crockpot Smoked Sausage Bites

Tangy Crock Pot Smoked Sausage Bites


Family size package of skinless smoked sausage
2 - 18 oz. jars of apple jelly
squirt of yellow mustard

Slice the smoked sausage into bite size pieces, place in your slow cooker, add both jars of apple jelly, a squirt of yellow mustard - set on Low and cook till party time - you actually might want to give it a stir once the jelly melts to combine everything.

In a hurry: set your slow cooker on high and just stir sooner-turn down to low once cooked!

In an even bigger hurry:  Combine all 3 ingredients in a pan and heat on the stove, put in your crock pot on low or warm to serve during the party!

Chef's (that's me) notes:  I am aware that 'squirt' is not an actual measurement however I have total faith that you can determine and actively administer a squirt of mustard without much trouble!  I have also not listed a recommended amount of cooking time that is because the brilliance of this recipe is the ease-if they look done and are warm they are good to go - trust your inner chef!

December 24, 2013

The Christmas with no pictures.

Every year as the kids and I are putting up the Christmas tree I find myself talking to God-you might call it saying a prayer I tend to call them conversations (one sided-I am crazy but not that crazy)-thankful beyond words that we have farmed for another year together as a family!  It ALWAYS hits me hardest and makes me most thankful when I am decorating the tree.

We have always had a live tree except for one year- 1998 - the hog market didn't just crash it obliterated - there wasn't one-if you were to ask me I recall we were paying packers to take our hogs!  They bottomed out for us at $12 per cwt and the cost to produce for us was $29 per cwt (thanks to cheap corn at the time-at least for feeding, but we also raise more than we feed - so while it was cheap feed we weren't making any selling corn either)- we had an artificial tree this year!  This seems like a trivial thing to remember about such a rough year but it is always what comes to mind, makes it real, reminds me to be Thankful and puts things into perspective for me.  We were lucky, Chris' parents had bought a new artificial tree several years earlier and still had their old one in their basement which they were more than willing to loan us.  We have never spent over $40 on a live tree but that year the $40 was going to be spent on something that would last longer than a Christmas tree, it was never a question.  I don't recall having to put up an artificial tree being traumatizing that year-lots of people put them up every year.  But what I do remember is that that was the year that decorating the tree became the time that I evaluated my year.

Oh and we had an almost 3 year old daughter and I was preganant (math is not my strong suit, neither is remembering my kids' age - so I was wrong in the Indiana Prairie Farmer article)  - I have looked and looked, I look every year at this time and I can't find one picture from that Christmas!  I know she had presents, we got up Christmas morning and did our thing, we celebrated with Chris' family and my family but I can't find one picture that I took that year - I don't remember it being an intentional omission - I just must of not taken any.

I couldn't tell you what Casey got that Christmas but I know she opened presents from Santa and I know that Chris got me something-again I don't remember but every year I remember what Chris got and so does he-work boots.

Hog farmers go through work boots like nobodies business - hog manure eats leather work boots for breakfast, lunch and supper - Chris goes through 2-3 pair of good RedWings a year - that year he was still wearing the year befores pair- I kept insisting he buy himself a new pair and he refused - so I bought them - it may have been one of the first times I outright made a corporate decision on my own and carried it out!  But I also remember being a little nervous about that decision, so instead of admitting I bought the boots I had Chris' parents leave them on the porch swing-and pretended I had no idea where they came from saying maybe his parents had bought them for him.

Every year he tells me that that is his favorite Christmas present ever - that and the years that I buy him nothing (cause that doesn't cost him anything)!

I am thankful at Thanksgiving for the life I lead, the people I am surrounded by-family and friends, our health, the country I live in but it is the weekend after Thanksgiving as we are putting up our tree that I am reminded and give Thanks that we have made it another year involved in Agriculture!

A Very Merry Christmas From Our Farm To You!

December 15, 2013

It's not about God.....

......I believe in God - God The Father, His Son Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit.  But I am a believer he is everywhere not just in church.  While I have no problem with people who believe once a week a quiet place to worship Him, have spiritual time and learn/listen to the word of God from a preacher is right for them I sometimes sit in the barn after feeding the calves and marvel on this wold he created, I have found myself staring out a window at a sunset or storm telling Him how blessed I feel.  I can't quote the Bible, I can't list all the books in order but I am positive that I won't need to to get into heaven.

It's not about the preacher.....

........it is the people/my friends/my family that make up the church.  They, together, are the reason I love my Boggstown Church.  But I also know that after 43 years in this church that the day I choose to walk thru the doors, whether it be every single Sunday or once a year, they will smile at me, hug me, say they are glad to see me - and it won't matter that the preacher up front doesn't recognize me because it is they, my church family, that I want and need.

It is, however, about me.  About finding my peace and my healing - not a day goes by that I don't say a prayer for my Mom and my brother - I can't begin to imagine losing a piece of my everyday life - and that was what my Dad was to them.  I didn't see or even talk to my Dad everyday so as strange as it is to say- his passing didn't affect my everyday life - but it affected my Sunday's.  Right after he died I continued to go to church but it never failed to send me into tears - it only took a year for me to realize that it wasn't church that was making me sad but the fact that my Dad wasn't there.  I knew he wouldn't be at family dinners, holidays, birthdays, school functions - Chris and I talked about all the monumental moments we wouldn't have him at, I cried for my Mom and my brother and their everyday life, I cried for all the 'teenage' things I did that I never told him I regretted but I never gave a second thought as to how hard it would be to sit in the 3rd pew from the back on the right side of the church and him not be sitting on the center end with a kid on his lap and a handkerchief in his pocket that he was more than willing to share and then put right back in his pocket again.

But it is - it is hard, too hard right now.

December 9, 2013

I wore the dirty jeans!

I opted for the dirty ones on Friday of Hoosier Beef Congress - via an unofficial pole on Facebook!

I am glad I did because by the end of the day it didn't much matter how I started it - I was dirty, tired and barely able to move!

Chris stayed home to take care of the hogs-so I was sent from home with 3 kids and 4 calves waiting in the trailer at the fairgrounds parked in BFE and lots of snow and ice - good times were sure to happen!

We fed the calves in the trailer in the hopes that Chris would be up in time to help move them into the barn-but no such luck, the kids and I trekked out to the trailer, haltered everyone and started the journey in - several calf switches along the way and we are half way in when the fun begins-I ended up with a slightly flighty heifer - she is an absolute doll at home but maybe the thought of being judged had her all worked up - I sent the 3 kids and their calves on ahead hoping that once 'Princess Dusty' and I had our come to Jesus meetin' we could make our walk in holding our heads high - yeah that didn't pan out!!  After 2 sight seeing tours around the gazebo at the state fairgrounds with a heifer as my tour guide (a rather quick tour guide - picture me while still on my feet basically being drug around the gazebo) I managed to get her up next to a lamppost where I tied her up, caught my breath and phoned for help-thankfully I have Keegan Poe on speed dial up here and he sent someone to walk the heifer in for me - so instead of walking in with our heads held high, mine was hung in shame and hers was tightly held so she couldn't get away - but better than being on the front page of the Indy Star being known as the one who let a heifer run free on 38th Street!

Once in we watered them all - bucket after bucket after bucket after head but and bucket of water bucket of water dumped down my leg!

But trudging forward I kept moving-the kids got all the calves washed and blown out and quite frankly the afternoon was a blur - there was some clipping I am positive of and can prove that because even though I was wearing two shirts, a jacket and a vest there was cow hair clippings in my bra that night!

Showmanship was in the evening - well planned out or so I thought - showmanship numbers/backtags had been handed out earlier in the day and as they were handed to us they wrote the child's name and class on the back.  I carefully checked each backtag class and name, placed them in the order of showing, laid them on the showbox and proceeded getting everything and everyone ready - first calf blown out, show halter on, kid dressed, in the show ring, back out - second calf blown out, show halter on, kid dressed, in the show ring, back out - and then waiting for for the third kid - and waiting - and waiting and finally figuring out we were waiting for an assigned non-existent class - long story somewhat short is apparently there was a mix up in class numbers and kids (not just mine) were told they were in classes that didn't exist - by the time we figured out what was going on, made my way to the announcers stand they were in the middle of judging the last class in her division, we were told to go ahead and jump in the class - ummmm what?  her heifer was clear back in the South Pavilion -  I was not happy, turns out it happened to quite a few kids - it cost $10 extra dollars (besides the $75 entry fee per calf) to show showmanship-in all honesty I wasn't overly concerned with my $10 it was more the way I was 'dismissed' and not even a hint of an apology from the person in charge-surprisingly I kept my temper under control - probably because I was in shock - we turned around, headed back to the barn, fed and led the calves out to the trailer for the night - physically and metally exhausted - and still fuming!  Next year I will be cross checking with the sheets hanging on the wall!!!!

A quick stop at Steak-n-Shake for a late supper and home where I took my even dirtier jeans off as I walked in the back door - I am pretty sure that they could of stood up in corner by themselves-glad I didn't bother wearing clean jeans!

November 23, 2013

My Mom's Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate has forever been a part of my life - my Mom loves it, fixes it all the time and it seems like she always has!

The temps started dropping last week and with several things going on the next couple of weeks involving a lot of work outside the first thing the kids requested was that I learn to make 'Grandma's Hot Chocolate' - my reaction was 'fine, if my Swiss Miss isn't good enough for you' and they said 'it's not'!!!!

So I called Mom expecting some long concoction of ingredients to pre-mix but what I got was this:

"Well I have had so many different recipes over the years but what I currently use is my favorite!"

Prepared with my pen and paper, saying a small prayer that I had all the ingredients on hand and (I won't lie) a slight roll of my eyes at the prospect of a trip to the grocery store- I braced myself for the recipe!

"Dove chocolate squares!"

"Just heat your milk up, drop in however many Dove chocolate squares you want, stir and you have the best hot chocolate ever - oh and if you are going to blog this secret could you at least try to get me a lifetime supply of Dove Chocolate"

Now what she didn't verbally express in our conversation is an unwritten (and obviously unspoken) ingredient that always goes in my Mom's hot chocolate:


there you have it folks-let's be honest, pretty much doesn't matter what the base recipe is for hot chocolate - you add a dip of ice cream and you have put it over the top!

Topped with cow sprinkles makes it even yummier!

My Mom's Hot Chocolate


Dove Chocolate Squares (Milk Chocolate or Dark Chocolate-your choice)
vanilla ice cream
sprinkles - optional

Heat your milk up (microwave or stovetop), pour into a mug and add as many or as little Dove Chocolate squares as you desire-stir to melt chocolate and combine with milk.

Top with a dip of vanilla ice cream and sprinkles!

November 15, 2013

Fall Pumpkin Squares

These are one of my favorite fall things to make-super easy and super yummy!  My Mom has made these ever since I can remember -they are always a huge hit if I take them somewhere!

The recipe I use is from one of my favorite Gooseberry Patch books:

Welcome Home For The Holidays

Fall Pumpkin Square

Pumpkin Squares:
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 cups pumpkin
1 cup oil
Mix all ingredients together.  Spread in a jelly pan for thinner bars or a 9x13 for thicker bars.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes (until toothpick comes out clean).

2 cups powdered sugar
8 ounces bar of cream cheese
3/4 stick butter
2 tsp. vanilla

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Spread on cooled pumpkin squares
Keep refrigerated.

November 12, 2013


I felt like I lived in the laundry room today!

I laughed and cried at the things that I found in my washer and dryer (luckily no livestock markers-been there done that), the sheer amount of laundry and the fact that I still can't find anything to wear!  You know last night I had an hour to kill in town waiting on the middle and I opted to pop into Kohls and buy myself a couple of pairs of new underwear-it's how I treat myself-I know for two days I won't have to hunt for clean underwear!

The only farming I did today was hauling manure soaked and splattered clothes into the washer-load after load after load after load after load.................

More Dirty Laundry:

November 10, 2013


I made the mistake of stating my plans for the day on Facebook-and of course the majority of those didn't get accomplished - but in the end it was a good day and like every other day - just not the one I had planned!


I laughed a lot today (and maybe stomped my foot) -I couldn't hit a clay pigeon with a shot if it were laying on the ground 15 foot in front of me!!!


I got to watch the boy run his double crop beans - he also planted them!  I am positive he was more excited about being in the operators seat of the combine while Grumpy (Chris' Dad) rode in the buddy seat than he was about the fact they made 20 bpa-a respectable number for double crops!

My Seriously Amazing Mac & Cheese

So let's try this again - only with a little more appetizing picture!

I originally posted this recipe in January of last year-I even stated in the post that the pictures pretty much sucked but not to let that affect your opinion of the recipe-because this recipe totally rocks!  But over the past few months I have been working on my food photography skills and so here is the recipe again with a much more appetizing picture - although I still stand behind the picture of the beer and cheese in the original post-because, well it is beer and cheese!

My Seriously Amazing Mac & Cheese

Recipe by Jent
  • 3 cups Dry Macaroni - cooked & drained
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 cups Milk
  • 3/4 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 cup Velveeta
  • 2-2 1/2 cups Shredded Cheese - any combination you choose
  • 1 stick Butter
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Cooking Directions
  1. Combine all ingredients, put in a 9x13 pan, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour.

I am participating in Indiana's Family of Farmers Table Talk Series and received a gift in exchange for my participation.

November 9, 2013


I watched the sunrise from my small town, ate breakfast at my Moms surrounded by family and watched the sunset from the cab of a tractor!


I am sure I laughed today-I laugh everyday-I love to laugh!  I am sure that at breakfast lots of funny things were said-there is always a ton of laughter around the Eck Family table but to be honest it was a tough day emotionally - I really missed Dad today - and then it tears at my heart to think that my Mom, Brother and SIL - who spent everyday with him must feel like this a lot more than I do and I cry for them.


Had one of the best seats in the house as we finished Harvest 2013!

I am not a cemetery person!

It has never been a place I went to 'visit' those that I love who have died-it isn't where they are.  But in the past month I have found it is one of the only places (the other being a tractor cab working) that you can cry and think without people trying to make you feel better.

That is where I am sitting this moment watching the sun come up-Dad's graveside service was small-just our family and it was at sunrise-his favorite time of day.  Dad was a morning person and by morning I mean he would of made an excellent dairy farmer-rising and shining before the sun came up is something he excelled at-when I was little I remember him coming in having already fed the cattle while we were still warm in bed and still dark out and waking us up with his cold hands and just laughing.

My Dad would be the first person to say "yep this is sad but there is nothing we can do to change it so just keep moving forward" and I believe this; so why this is hitting so hard today I don't know-

November 6, 2013


It felt like I lived in my truck today: Chris and I went to look at a feed truck in Greenfield, broke a tooth at lunch so straight back to the dentist, 3 trips to town for kids activities!


My own tweet made me laugh! And cry a little!


We watched the radar and rain all day-chomping at the bit to get busy at the last 110 acres!

November 5, 2013


When you see views like this everyday and they still amaze you and take your breath away-well you know life is good!


"Rocking the hair nets #millionmealmarathonindy #selfies #farmsmatter"

This pic on Instagram totally made me laugh!
I love my friends, they are the best in the world!


We finished up west of town, all that is left is 110 acres of corn!


Well technically yesterday - but this post is supposed to be Day 4 of 30 Days of Ag -anyway you get it - I am a slacker-

I don't know how you can spend all day in a tractor and still be racking your brain about something agricultural to write about - but I am - I am just not happy with how I am handling this series - I am kind of a random person but this is even too far out there for me - I came up with an idea (well about 15 ideas) yesterday but ditched them all, went back to a couple, shrugged them off, grasped at them again . . . . you get the point - but as I really need to get outside here in a few I am going to throw caution to the wind, try a different direction and see if it sticks to the ceiling!


This is where I live - in beautiful central Indiana!
This picture does not begin to do justice to the colors of the leaves, I was able to look at these colors all day from the cab of a tractor - it just doesn't get much better!


Middle: Good Afternoon
Me: Hi Sweetie
Middle: How are you?
Me: Fine
Middle: What are you doing?
Me: Running the grain cart, did you have a good day?
Middle: Head hurts but yeah, we now have assigned seats on the bus
Me: Why, what happened?
Middle: Joey left something inappropriate on the bus.
Me: Joey who and what!
Middle: Smith and idk I heard Chassidy yelling at him for something
Middle: Not like a condom mom!
Me: Ok-I guess that particular item hadn't occurred to me but good to know it was not that!

This made me laugh!
The middle knew I was in the field and wouldn't be home when she got off the bus so while on the bus she texted to ask how my day was going - this is how the conversation went!


This was where we farmed today!
Out west of Franklin, I ran the grain cart, my FIL ran the combine and Chris, Josh and Doug spent all day make round trips in the semi's, dumping corn at home in the bins and my MIL fed us all!

November 3, 2013

Day 3 Plans-we don't make no stinkin' plans!

Day 3 of 30 Days of Agriculture is a prime example of why we don't make plans!

I'll be honest I was in hopes of an uneventful day-and by uneventful that means that nothing breaks down, livestock doesn't escape, nobody runs out of feed ......... so on and so on!

But alas it was not to be - before lunch standing right inside the garage hollering my name is a husband covered in hog manure along with mumbling random phrases including things like:

hogs broke feeder, hogs busted waterline, feed line timed out, feed on the floor, hungry hogs

followed by-"I have never been too dirty or smell too much to go to Lowes but I do today-find me a pair of cleaner jeans, not clean jeans (thank God cause there were none) just not shit covered jeans-then would you ride to Lowes with me, I will drop you off you can fix lunch while I fix the hog barn issue, we will eat lunch and then move equipment to Arrowhead"


In the middle of the afternoon we moved the combine, grain cart and corn head to the west side of town!

But while this wasn't exactly how I saw my day going when I went to bed last night and woke up this morning- but when you can close your day with images such as these

well life is good when you


Oh and 3 calves now dingle berry free - in case you were keeping score!

November 2, 2013

Day2 Dingle berries-1 Jent-0

Day 2 of 30 Days of Agriculture - We are going to jump feet first (and I think there is still some in my hair) straight into the deep stuff - shit (not to offend any one but it is what is is) - it is a part of every day life on a livestock farm, it is also on almost every pair of shoes we own, has to be swept off my kitchen floor daily and honestly not a person in this house can smell it any more!

We are 35 days and counting from Hoosier Beef Congress - time to get busy - we have almost finished harvest, made it thru soil judging season and wrapped up National FFA Convention today!

I have told my kids from day 1 with the 'show' calves - We are in this for fun, not for the banners!  To be honest we basically can't afford them and we suck at being show stock jocks - we really do!

Today for example was spent washing, brushing and picking a months worth of dingle berries off of a couple of the calves we will be taking to congress-tmw we will conquer two more!

Fighting dingleberries on show calves for 10 years and counting:

But at the end of the day when your Facebook status says:

"I won't lie-an hour and half ago I was ticked off because the boy was whining about dingle berries (on his calf not himself)!  but just now I looked out my bedroom window, the sun is shining and what I see and hear make my heart smile-we have 4 trees well over 80 years old in our yard and the leaves are amazing shades of red, yellow and orange-rustling and falling in the breeze; my son and nephew are raking them into big piles, jumping in the repeatedly and giggling; the middle is washing her heifer and singing (off key and loudly); Chris is unloading feed and there are four extra trucks parked in my driveway belong to FFA member who met at my house this morning who took my Explorer to Louisville for the day so that they could attend the last session of the National FFA Convention and their last day of convention as FFA members."

well even if you have bits of shit in your hair you just


Day 1-FFA

Go figure is November 2 and I am already behind on this project!

Hello my name is Jennifer Campbell-I procrastinate, I work best on a last minute adrenaline rush and can always formulate an excellant excuse as to why I am always on the verge of lateness!

I have no plan for this series (welcome to my life), I have given it a lot of thought, discussed it with Chris and thought about ditching it because it just wasn't flowing for me - But just like my very first blog post says:

And so just like everything else in my life I will jump in head first, full of enthusiasm and figure out the logistics of it later!!!!

So here we go:

30 Days of Agriculture In My Life

{Link will take you to other much better blogs participating in this}

I have said before and will say again:

so as oppossed to writing about a single educational topic that would enlighten you and make you smarter this will be just 30 days of how we (like most farmers) live and breath our jobs/lifestyle 24/7/365!

We will kick this party off in true Jennifer fashion with my first excuse for being late that of course involved agriculture:

I was planning on heading down to Louisville on my own Friday to visit with truly one of my best friends from Nebraska who I met on Twitter (yes I am addicted to Social Media) who was attending Convention as a chaperone for her kids FFA Chapter-but I received a phone call late Wednesday evening asking if I could come down Thursday morning to help chaperone our chapter and stay Thursday night-I very seldom tell people no!  So some quick rearranging of what I had planned for Thursday and at 10am the next morning I set out for Louisville.  The next 24 hours would consist of almost drowning being surrounded by well over 50,000 blue corduroy jackets, rain & wind, a harrowing trip to Lexington (where our hotel was) in the dark, 12 hours with no electricity, 3 fire alarm evacuations, no shower (which in and of itself is traumatizing for me) and a mass (grab what you own we are never coming back to this hotel) exodus!  Friday I spent a few hours walking around the trade show with my oldest who was bound and determined to make herself and her desire for an internship known to every agriculture company represented there and I got the honor of meeting Janice in person -

All in all it wasn't bad-I won't lie, I had a ton more fun at the 1986 National FFA Convention in Kansas City - but that was probably because I was a lot younger!

I have watched these kids for the last 4 years grow, mature (somewhat) and learn about agriculture - and while not every single one of them will be directly involved in the industry for the rest of their lives they have definitely developed a love and respect for it.

And when you are scrolling thru your Facebook feed and find this:


well you tear up a little and you know it is all worth it!


November 1, 2013


I have a mantra, a code, a mission statement to my life!

And I am using it as my 'theme' to 30 Days of Agriculture!

I first came across this 'saying' maybe 2 years ago - thanks to Agriculture Impressions and her shop on Etsy!

It has become my favorite-it says exactly who I am (or strive to be) everyday!

I have a shirt!

I have written it in the bean dust on my Explorer!

I label pictures of my kids with it!

I have it on the back of my truck!

And when I turned my Dad's work belt into a cuff - well this only made sense.

So the next 30 days tag along to LIVE.LAUGH.FARM with me!

Day by Day:

Day 1 - FFA
Day 2 - Dingle berries
Day 3 - Plans, I laugh in your face
Day 4 - Today
Day 5 - 
Day 6
Day 7
Day 8
Day 9
Day 10
Day 11