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February 19, 2014

Flat Aggie Goes Hog Wild

Well Flat Aggie came for a visit - we had a great time!

When he first arrived we sat down around the kitchen table and got to know each other!

We welcomed him to Central Indiana - and I mean right in the middle of the state - Franklin, Indiana!  We told him we were a grain and hog farm!

We raise corn, soybeans and wheat.

We also have a farrow to finish hog operation - that means that we have sows (momma pigs) on our farm who give birth and then we raise those piglets until they weigh enough to be sold to a packer.

Our hogs are raised in confinement barns - that means that they are always indoors in climate controlled conditions for their comfort.

We then let him tell us a little about himself!

He told us he was visiting from Kansas and was here to learn about hogs.  He also told us he was visiting from Mrs. Leiker's second grade class!

I was surprised and asked if he knew Maddix - Flat Aggie was left speechless when I told him that last summer Maddix has stopped for a short visit at our farm with his family!

So we took Flat Aggie down to the hog barns and showed him our operation!

We started in the farrowing barn - this is the barn where the baby pigs are born.  We use gestation crates - this allows for us to monitor each sows feed and health but also gives her space of her own and her piglets space to sleep without the risk of her laying on them accidentally.  Baby pigs are given a mat to sleep on and a heat lamp for warmth, they still have constant access to their momma for 100% of their nutrition.

The sows are fed twice a day - their feed is ground on our farm and is a combination of corn, soybean meal (which is ground soybeans with most of the oil removed leaving the flour, which is high in protein) and vitamins and minerals specific to nursing sows.

Flat Aggie loved watching the piglets run around and play - and of course wanted to pet one!

We also keep records on all our sows- each sow has an ear tag with a specific number - we record the number of crate that she is housed in and then record the date she gives birth, the number of piglets she has and when those piglets are processed - meaning when they were given the newborn once over check and shots.

Next we showed him our nursery rooms - when piglets are almost 4 weeks old we wean them.  That means to take them off of the mothers milk and put them on full feed and water.  Pigs will stay in the nursery for about 5 more weeks - they will come into the nursery weighing approximately 15 pounds and when they are moved into the finishing barns they weigh right around 80 pounds.

Flat Aggie helped check each waterer and make sure the feed was flowing in each feeder in the nursery!

We also told Flat Aggie to check the thermostats - it has been cold here in Indiana but the pigs are always kept at a constant temperature in our barns!  I made sure I told him that our barns are warmer and kept at higher temperatures in the cold of winter than our home - You and I can put on a sweatshirt or snuggle under a blanket if we get cold, our pigs can't so it is important to keep the temperatures warm and steady for them all winter.

While Flat Aggie was visiting he got to help us vaccinate a group of nursery pigs!  When the pigs are 6 weeks old they each get a shot to help protect them from certain illnesses. 

When the pigs are about 10 weeks old we move them into the finishing barn.  They have more space and are fed a different ration of feed to maximize their growth.

Once moved into the finisher they will stay here till they are about 6 months old - by then they weight around 280 pounds and are ready for market.

The last stop on our tour was our gestation room - here is where we keep the sows while they are pregnant - this type of housing allows each sow her own space, she doesn't have to compete with other sows for feed and water and allows us to keep a closer eye on her individual health and care.

Here Flat Aggie got to help feed  - this lever releases all the individual feed tubes to each sow in our gestation barn.

Flat Aggie got a huge treat - he happened to be down at the barns on the day that they got the John Deere 720 out to start it up and let it run - we are working on restoring it.

I extended Flat Aggie's visit just a few days because I wanted him to help us celebrate National FFA Week with us!

Last night he got to attend the Spaghetti Supper and have his picture taken with Franklin FFA's Officer Team!

And this morning he got to drive one of the tractors to school for tractor day!

Thanks so much for letting Flat Aggie come visit us, he is welcome any time!!

February 17, 2014

How do I sleep at night?

I'm not gonna lie some nights not very well - but it isn't for the reasons you accuse me of!

Not very often do Chris and I do evening chores together but Saturday night we did - I didn't neglect to let the world via Social Media know it -

"Helping with hog chores tonight! #myboots #hogfarmerswife"

"UH OH - fooled the heat check boar the first time but not this time - not bred not good!"

"She's a good sow putting her energy into nursing her piglets but she was looking a little thin so she gets an extra scoop of SOM for additional protein tonight! #farmsmatter #farmerscare"

"Babies all warm and comfy #babybacon"

What does this have to do with me not sleeping?  It was a comment I received on the last picture:

"I am not a vegan but I believe that even animals raised for food deserve a good and merciful life.  Standing on a metal grate next to their mama who can barely move is not anyone's idea of 'comfy'.  Don't know how you people sleep at night."

Well honestly, a lot of nights in the dead of winter and in the horrible heat of summer I don't sleep well - I worry about the 10% of our sow herd on outside lots.  This winter we have had several sows get frostbit ears and we lost a sow to prolapse because all the sows in her lot laid in a pile for warmth, she was on the bottom!  And in the summer keeping them cool is just as big a concern for me.

But how do I sleep knowing that my 90% of our sows and all our other pigs are safe and comfortable in confinement barns - like a baby!

This little piggy is sound asleep!

Chris texted me this picture the other day as he was checking on farrowing sows - this baby looks mighty comfortable to me!

They are not on metal grates - it is plastic flooring, the manure falls through to a pit so that they don't have to sleep in it, there are mats under the heat lamps for comfort and to keep them warm.  Momma sow is in a farrowing crate so that she has space and so do her babies, she can't lay on them and kill them accidentally.  Her feed is monitored twice daily, if she is putting her energy into nursing than she gets a little extra.

So how do I sleep - I sleep fine - my livestock is given a good and merciful life - when temperatures drop the thermostats in all our hog barns are higher than in our home and when the electricity goes out the only generator we own runs down at the hog barns not at our house!  So ask me how I sleep at night and I will tell you peacefully know that our livestock is well cared for!

February 15, 2014

Don't make me kick you off my energy bus!

Cause to be honest I will!  My kids always tell me my energy bus might as well be a VW Bug because at the rate I am kicking people off I won't need many seats!

While most of the time I say it tongue and cheek, in all fairness to me and my sanity it's a real threat - and while someone metaphorically being kicked off my energy bus rarely affects them it makes me feel like a whole new person!

The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy

I read the book a little while after my Dad died, it quite honestly had nothing to do with him but I think it was the straw that broke the camels back - I was allowing every single person that I came in contact with affect me - I was driving around a huge double decker every one had an opinion that mattered energy bus - and it was starting to mess with my head - 42 years of driving that bus was more than enough!

I won't lie-it reads a little cheesy!  When I first started reading it I felt silly BUT stick with it, it is worth it!

This book, more or less, gave me permission to decide whose opinion of me mattered!

Now don't get me wrong - I need other people, we all do, but we don't need every single person we come in contact with affecting how we see ourselves!

The Energy Bus for Kids: A Story about Staying Positive and Overcoming Challenges

I so wish I had had this book as a kid!  I would of been able to kick that big mean girl in 7th grade in the ass off my bus who didn't like any pair of shoes I wore the whole year-looking back I wish I would of had the balls to just look her in the eye and say "Really my shoes, all of my shoes, that is what you have chosen to be obsessed with?"!!!

I haven't changed the way I treat anyone but I changed the way I let what they say affect me.

A person will never know they have been kicked off my energy bus - but I know and that is truly what is important! 

February 10, 2014


Any time I use my first and middle name I am in trouble and when it comes out of my mouth (because yes it comes out of my mouth so that anyone around can hear it) it sounds just like my Mom's voice!

My mind is reeling this morning but unfortunately with nothing valid, just random thoughts:

My New Rule-

I imposed a new rule on myself:  As long as I am wearing shoes and mascara I may not go back to bed or take a nap!

So if you see me out and about in my pajamas, boots and mascara please know that I am trying!

Today I am working on shit - not in it but writing on it - but my boots are on so I can't go back to bed!

My Book-

For years I have told myself I should write a book - not necessarily for others just for me really for fun - things happen around here that years from now when stories are told people won't believe them and call me senile!

The most fun (and I am positive the easiest part) was compiling my chapter titles the other day while I should of been doing something constructive.

Since then I have added one more - It's the smokey eye.......things I have done

Have you seen this commercial?  It cracks me up every time!


My Addiction-

My name is Jennifer Campbell and I am addicted to Sarah's Valentine Puppy Chow.

I am not kidding, I have a serious problem - I call it Puppy Crack and yesterday I found myself eating the crumbly leavings in the bottom of the bowl with a spoon!

This morning the main bowl of Puppy Crack was empty, I panicked, I got the shakes, I ripped thru the cabinet and realized we were out of Rice Chex, I might of actually blacked out for a few seconds - I then remembered I had stashed a small bowl of it behind the mixer yesterday - I.KID.YOU.NOT - this is true - I feel better now - milk and Puppy Crack make my life complete.

My Writing-

I have been writing for Indiana Prairie Farmer for almost two and half months!  It has been a little bit of a hard adjustment for me because Tom won't let me just write random articles and continually give my opinion - go figure!  But he does sometimes and today's article is one of those times.  I truly enjoy writing in first person because I am merely telling people how I see the situation and not presuming to be smarter than anyone and trying to educate them - this is definitely one of my favorite pieces.