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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 18, 2014

Rural King Adventures With The Campbells

Our oldest surprised us a couple of weekends ago by showing up on our doorstep all the way from Iowa State University! What's the first thing that comes to mind for a big fun-filled family evening outing for the Campbells? A trip to Rural King.

We aren't shoppers, but a trip to Rural King is like a trip to Disney World for us. We are easily amused and even on vacations branch out to such places as Theisen's – a must stop in Iowa.
In Rural King, I've found that there are five things that can happen when we visit.
1. We are suddenly attracted to camo. We aren't hunters, but for some unknown reason my kids need everything in camouflage they can lay their hands on.
2. The Carhartt section becomes a wonderland of useful fashion items for work and dress. Do I need a new work coat? No, but I could totally pull it off as a fashion statement at Wal-Mart, all while not smelling like diesel fuel or hog manure…
3. We end up with a new kitchen gadget. This time it's the Apple Master 5000. How have we lived so long without one of these? In the first 24 hours of ownership we went through two bushels of apples – seriously. My only rule: You peel it, core it and spiral slice it, YOU EAT IT or you make me apple crisp!
4. We buy barrels of cheese balls, pounds of sugared gummy fruit shapes and beef jerky. I think this could be considered a balanced meal during harvest.
5. We buy the five-pound box of tortilla chips. Do we need one or should we buy two? Can you really have too many light and flaky tortilla chips from a farm supply store cardboard box?
We did make it out without purchasing any new boots, which is not an easy task. Everyone loves new boots.
We love the farm store. There's nowhere else you can shop for fashion, weapons, tools, holiday decor, snacks, go-carts, lawn chairs, toys, work gear and fencing supplies as a family.
Oh, and we actually remembered the work gloves that we went in for.

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

Ingredients
  • 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:





May 7, 2014

Parsley Buttered Potatoes




Parsley Buttered Potatoes


Recipe by Recipe By Gooseberry Patch and Jent



Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 lbs. new potatoes
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/4 c. butter, melted
  • 3 T fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 T fresh chives, snipped
  • salt & pepper to taste
Cooking Directions
  1. Place potatoes and water in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on high setting for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until tender; drain. In a small bowl, combine butter, parsley and chives. Pour over potatoes, toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.   
  2. Once coat the potatoes in butter and herbs I put them back in the crockpot with it off to keep them warm.
The original recipe also called for lemon juice, I am personally not a fan so I didn't add it. I also couldn't find chives that day at the grocery store so I used green onions!


https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Bc0CUNZIXarDagwrZetp9l-rfzdSjdXRQloBYv8MtD8/pub


May 5, 2014

Cheesy Corn for a Crowd

Cheesy Corn For A Crowd


Cheesy Corn for A Crowd


Recipe by Gooseberry Patch and Jent

Ingredients
  • 4 15-1/4 oz. cans corn, drained
  • 4 15 oz. cans creamed corn
  • 8 oz Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 8-1/2 oz. pkgs corn muffin mix
  • 4 eggs, heated
  • 16 oz French Onion dip
Cooking Directions:

Combine all ingredients together, put in lightly greased slow cooker. Cover and cook on high setting for 4 1/2 hours or on low setting for 9 hours.


Take into consideration the size and shape of your slow cooker, taller/deep slow cookers take a little longer to get the middle fully cooked.



This recipe is for a crowd - when I make it for my family (5 of us) I quarter it - there is plenty and it is just as delicious!







May 4, 2014

Too many irons in the fire.....

Do you ever feel that way?  Sometimes I feel like I am fighting everyone else's fires while mine burn out of control!

We started planting last weekend, got rained out Sunday night, I left for Oklahoma on Monday morning, returned Friday afternoon in time to help the oldest get ready for prom, back to field work, getting caught up with articles and some sleep and Sunday (today, I think...) was spent in the field again.

Therefore I am a wee bit behind on my Gooseberry Patch Giveaway!  So here's the deal - because I am behind you get more time to enter!  I have two more recipes to post from this awesome cookbook:








I will post one tomorrow and one on Wednesday and pick a winner on Friday!!!

I PROMISE!

Be sure you comment on the Giveaway post to be entered!

April 21, 2014

Meatloaf Made Easy

I LOVE MEATLOAF - I really do!

Every year since I can remember my Mom let's us pick a birthday meal and mine is always meatloaf, mashed potatoes and corn!  I don't venture far from my Mom's recipe for meatloaf but this version in 101 Super-Easy Slow-Cooker Recipes Cookbook  from Gooseberry Patch seemed similar just with the addition of sausage - which seemed valid for hog farmers and it's made in a crock-pot!!!


Gooseberry Patch crockpot meat loaf recipe


Meatloaf Made Easy


Recipe by Gooseberry Patch and Jent


Ingredients
  • 1 lb. ground pork sausage
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt & pepper to taste




  • 1 cup catsup


  • 1/2 cup brown sugar


  • Cooking Directions
    1. In a bowl, combine all ingredients except catsup and brown sugar. Form mixture into a rounded loaf. Place in slow cooker and poke a few holes in the top of meatloaf with a skewer. In a bowl, stir together catsup and brown sugar. Spoon mixture over meatloaf. Cover and cook on low setting for 3 to 5 hours, until meatloaf is no longer pink in the center.


    This was so simple, made the house smell good all day and tasted just like my Mom's {bonus} - everyone loved it {bonus bonus}!

    To make this meal complete I also made 2 other crockpot recipes - I filled 3 crockpots that morning and by evening an entire supper was ready to serve - all 3 dishes were a hit and so easy - this whole meal is going on my 'busy in the field' go to's!!!

    April 17, 2014

    Let's Give Away A Gooseberry Patch Cookbook!







    This is an awesome cookbook I have already made tons of recipes - all of which have been hits in this house!

    When Gooseberry Patch asked me if I would like to try a cookbook and then give one away it was pretty much a no brainer for me!  Some of my favorite go-to recipes are from them and this one intrigued me as I hope to be a little more organized at meal time during planting this year {let me live my fantasy for a while please}!!

    After spending way to much time looking thru the book, drooling on the pics and postie noting the recipes I liked I picked three that I thought would make a great meal - borrowed a couple of crockpots from my Mom, fired them up one morning, my house smelled amazing all day and after supper everyone in my house was full and the crockpots were empty!








    In all honesty I had a fourth crockpot going that day with a dessert from the cookbook but I am pretty sure it was operator error that caused it to not work out so edible but I am definitely trying it again!

    So this book was fun to look through with all the pics-my food doesn't normally turn out like the pretty pics but anyway!  The only thing I wish this book would of addressed is the size of crockpot that the recipe used - I realize there are tons of crockpots but just as a gauge this would of been nice.  I put the cheesy corn casserole in more of an upright crockpot and it could of used a little more time than if I would of put it in more of a shallow oval shaped one, which I suspect by the cooking time is what the recipe writer must have used.


    SO THE FUN PART!


    Win yourself a copy!


    Leave a comment with how many crockpots you own and your email and you will be entered!

    The contest will run for 10 days, in which time I will be posting 3 of my favorite recipes from this book - so on Satuday April 26 I will pick a winner at random!

    GOOD LUCK!!!



    Gooseberry Patch did provide me with a cookbook, but all photos, reviews, and opinions are my own!

    April 13, 2014

    Consumer, Technology & Nostalgia OH MY - Part 5

    Anything new and different is constantly scrutinized and attacked by someone. There will always be those who don't like something, but choosing the way to express your opinions and beliefs can make it easier for others to listen and potentially learn.

    Jonathan Sparks, a farmer in Westland, Ind., sums up how many who live day in and day out in the midst of production agriculture are feeling:


    "It's amazing the things we learn about ourselves as we grow older. I made a choice at a fairly young age that I wanted to do what my father and his father did for a living. I wanted to be a farmer, something I have never regretted, but recently I have been told things about myself that have me a little concerned.

    For one, I have learned I'm a greedy corporate pig, pillaging money from my own government to pad my astronomical profits. It gets worse though, not only am I pillaging from the government but I'm also responsible for the obesity 'epidemic' by producing corn that is turned into corn syrup and consumed by unsuspecting Americans.

    Oh and the GMOs we use – let us not forget about how we are abusing our environment and creating some kind of 'Franken food.' And meat production, where do we start – antibiotics, growth hormones or Heaven forbid you house livestock inside, away from the elements and the predators.
    How did this happen? What has changed that production agriculture has been deemed a menace to society by some? Nothing really, other than what the public asked for.
    The last 100 years has seen changes like no society has ever seen in food production. Advances in technology and science have been astounding.
    My grandfather, who passed away more than 20 years ago, would be in awe of the tools I have to produce food. My father would probably be impressed with the changes we've seen since he left us just a few years ago.
    Agriculture has continued to do what is asked of it – produce an abundant and safe food supply for our country as inexpensively as possible.
    No wait … somewhere in there we became responsible for producing for a large part of the world. Increasing the demand for what we should produce and using much of the same acreage to produce it!
    What changed is that we in farming have become the most efficient food producer in the world. American farmers increased production 93.87% from 1948 to 2011, while inputs rose a slight 4.41% during that same time period. Why did this increase in productivity happen?
    Simply put, in my opinion it was necessary for American farmers to keep increasing output and efficiency to survive.
    In 1950, the U.S. population was roughly 150 million people. Of that 150 million people, 25 million were farmers. In 2012, the U.S. population had grown to 313 million, while the number of farmers had dropped to 2.1 million. The marketplace demanded that producers increase efficiency or they found another means to sustain their families.
    So with all that said, what is the face of modern agriculture? One word comes to my mind – families. Family owned and operated farms account for 96% of all farms. But our business structures may differ – some may be sole proprietors, some have "Inc." or "LLC" behind their names. We are, for the most part, one thing: families working together to produce food, fuel, and fiber for our country and our world, hopefully scratching out a living for ourselves in the process.
    The risk in agriculture is greater than ever; the costs of inputs, fuel and machinery continue to climb while prices fluctuate and yields depend greatly on Mother Nature. This makes the risk management tools which are sponsored by the government of even more important to the well-being of our families.
    As for science and technology, these advancements bring benefits that are weighed heavily by producers. GMOs have been proven by science to be safe, and our families consume products produced with biotech grain, just the same as yours. The livestock sector of agriculture continues to produce more meat with fewer inputs and less impact on our environment.
    Farming isn't an occupation; it's a way of life. We champion sustainable methods of production. Why? It's all about family having something to pass down to the next generation, and with 2 million farmers, that next generation is more important than ever."

    Farmers are intelligent, hardworking and passionate about what they do – it has been said for years that farming isn't just a job, it is a lifestyle. When the methods of modern agriculture are attacked, it can feel like a personal jab to those living it every day.


    Nostalgia - Farming Deserves More Respect Part 4

    "They are bi-coastal experts on agriculture, armed with a touching nostalgia for a life they never lived."



    Consumers in our business are a given, we provide an essential component that all humans require.  Technology is ever changing, has and will be something every industry deals with.  But name one other industry where nostalgia plays such a pivotal role.

    This line - "they are bi-coastal experts on agriculture, armed with a tough nostalgia for a life they never lived' - is so poignant.

    People love connection.  Connection to things, to other oeple, to happy situation, even to tragedy.  Tell someone you live, work or own a farms and nine times out of ten they will speak of their Grandpas or Uncles farm from when they were a kid.  People love connection and connection brings about nostalgia.

    Nostalgia is a big puzzle piece in the perception of agriculture.  Everyone wants cheaper better food at their fingertips but raised just like it looks in Norman Rockwell pictures, the way they remember their visits or envision a relatives farms.  Today's farms are to look and behave nostalgic but Wal-Mart is to have everything they need regardless of the season.  They want their food raised by a man in a backyard garden but available in abundant quantities at reasonable prices - there is a disconnect and nostalgia plays a huge role in this disconnect.




    Shopping for a new car no one ever walks in, looks around and says "do you have anything without an airbag or air-conditioning because that is the kind of car my Grandpa drove" - no people want the advancement and technology that science and research has provided.

    "Know this about me, and most farmers: We're in this for the long haul." says Hurst. "If I'm using a new method or a new technology, I'm convinced that i's not only the right thing for me, but for my grand kids as well"

    We depend on the land, we buy our food from the same places you do.  But what consumers see is us doing it differently than our great grandparents or their great grandparents and because this triggers their perception of nostalgia they tend to assume it is negative.

    Nostalgia is a powerful thing!  In Chris' office hangs no less than 25 pictures of our family's farming over the last one hundred years.  I hope that one day if my kids decide to farm that they appreciate the past, understand the present, and accept the future - I don't expect them to do things exactly the way we do them today nor will their kids do things the same as them

    April 8, 2014

    Technology - Farming Deserves More Respect Part 3

    "Our critics are convinced that technology applied to personal communications devices and medicine is a net good, but science applied to growing things is freakish, unnatural and dangerous."

    Farming Deserves More Respect By Blake Hurst


    Hurst, a Missouri Farmer wrote "Farming Deserves More Respect" as an opinion piece that appeared on The Kansas City Star website and quickly made it rounds within social media.  I have read his article so many times I almost have it memorized and every time I read it - consumers, technology and nostalgia lead out at me - these three play a massive role in the agriculture industry.

    Consumers are a given, we produce food and fiber, they eat and like to be clothed.  But I don't think many farmers thought that part of their job would be communicating with consumers when they don't directly sell end products.

    But technology has always been at the forefront of agriculture, it is required to keep the industry, any industry, moving forward.  However it is viewed so differently in this industry by those looking in.

    Technology is constantly critiqued yet demanded by people.  Just like Hurst states, it is accepted in all areas except one of the most vital for survival-feeding the human race.

    Technology in agriculture is ever chaninging, sometimes it moves faster than imaginable.  But farming is one of the most conservative industries out there.

    The use of technology is essential to agriculture today.  The American Farmer produces 362% more food with 2% fewer inputs compared with 1950 according to The American Farm Bureau, that is thanks to technology.  As the population of the world continues to increase technology to help feed them will be required.

    "We adopt change very, very slowly, and don't invest in new technologies without plenty of proof that they make sense." writes Hurst.  "Our commitment to the place where we live is strengthened by the presumed tenure of our residence."

    The acceptance of technology for every farm is different, this is what makes our industry work.  There are those willing to be on the cutting or bleeding edge, adapt easily and willing to try things as they become available.  And those a little slower, it works.

    "Know this about me, and most farmers: We're in this for the along haul.  If I'm using a new method or a new technology, I'm convinced that it's not only the right thing for me, but for my grandkids."



    Decisions made on farms are not made lightly, we rely on the land year to year for our income - it is in our best interests to care for it continually.



    The Series:




    April 3, 2014

    Consumers - Farming Deserves More Respect Part 2


    "Consumers have every right to be curious about how we raise their food, and I'm more than glad to spend the next year talking about why we do the things we do." states Hurst in his article.

    Farming Deserves More Respect  By Blake Hurst

    Consumers are obviously a given in our line of work, we grow food and they eat.  But let's be honest, the majority of farms don't sell direct to consumers and therefore the need to communicate directly with them isn't something that receives our immediate attention, nor is it something we thought we ever would need to do.

    "But those of us out here in the agricultural hither lands are ill-prepared to joist with eloquent journalism professors, celebrity chefs, and multimillion-dollar propaganda campaigns from franchised burrito stands.  Seed corn gimme caps, blue jeans and a stubborn refusal to darken the door of a gym are inadequate tools when your industry is the cross hairs of Dr. Oz, Oprah and Mark Bittman, food writer and farming critic for The New York Times." - and Hurst is right.

    But in today's world of instant 'knowledge' via the internet maybe conversing with consumers might be one extra task farmers need to put on there ever growing to-do list.

    I saw a tweet the other day:





    and I agree whole heartedly - but I wonder for every person 'gluten free' advertised food has helped how many people who don't need 'gluten free' has it affected simply from a marketing stand-point.  How many people buying and eating 'gluten free' food actually know what gluten is?  Or just because the product implies it is 'free' of something means that it must be better for you?

    Marketing gimics are part of the game but it is a game between the processor and the consumer with the producer paying the price.

    Social Media is making communicating with consumer a little easier.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blogging are all great ways to share with consumers directly from our barn, tractors and offices.  Letting them know we aren't only growing food for their families but for ours as well is a powerful statement when it comes directly from the source.


    Not all consumers are farmers but all farmers are consumers!

    "Know this about me, and most farmers: We're in this for the long haul.  If I'm using a new method or a new technology, I'm convinced that it's not only the right thing for me, but for my grandkids as well."  -Hurst


    Want to know what I think about the technology aspect?