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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

  • 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!