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November 29, 2015

Just Thankful For Food

Facebook Memories gets me every time!  That app that lists your posts from that day from previous years.  An article I wrote for Indiana Prairie Farmer popped up on my memories as I was still full and recovering from a huge Thanksgiving meal the other day.
As I was sitting there with my laptop on my comfy couch, full from so much food there would be leftovers for days I was once again reminded not everyone was as fortunate a me.  While my house was a disaster, laundry knee deep and evening feeding of the livestock still had to be done these were all fortunate problems to have and I would be doing them with a full stomach.
I have listened to my oldest talk about packing meals in Washington, D.C., with FFA. She said it made her feel good inside and appreciate what she had.
"Putting together those meals was actually putting in my time and effort, seeing the process and the end product," she said.
I take food for granted every single day!  I've said often "I'm starving", sometimes even after I say it I chastise myself because it's truly not a phrase that should be uttered lightly.
When the opportunity came for me to help pack meals, I signed up. What was supposed to be a day of me giving back ended in me taking some things away from the experience.
As a Mom and a person who has never wanted for food, it made me think. I was going to go home, take my shoes off, sit in a comfortable chair after a long day and then contemplate what we were having for supper.  
It was that easy.
I would pull some cut of pork or beef out of my fully stocked freezer. I would open a cabinet and grab something for a side and honestly, I might even feel a bit inconvenienced that I had to cook at all that evening. To be even more honest, if I didn't feel like cooking at all, it would have been no big deal to head in town to a restaurant.
Not everyone has those choices or those conveniences. Eating a meal is a no-brainer for me. That isn't true for everyone – what an eye-opening experience. Some people think non-stop about how to properly feed their children; others wonder if they can feed their children at all that day.
People want to go on and on about food – eating local, organic, non-GMO, gluten free, cage-free, free-range, grass fed – it's all a luxury we take for granted. All of the 'buzz words' and marketing labels are a luxury! 
The people getting these meals just want food.
They don't care if it was raised within a five-mile radius of their home, if it's organic, if it's labeled non-GMO or if it contains only dairy products from happy cows.
We, most of us reading this, are lucky – this probably isn't an issue for you. But even for those of us who hunger is not an issue, we need to stop and think about it.
Science and technology have to be a part of food. It may not have to be a part of your food but to feed everyone in this growing world, it has to play a role.
Choose what you want for your family but be sure you are allowing other that same choice and one that they can afford with their food dollars.

If you ever get the opportunity to work with Kids Against Hunger I highly encourage it.  Two of my 3 kids have packed meals for them and my youngest will have his turn as soon as the opportunity is available.  Kids Against Hunger is a nonprofit food aid organization with the goal to reduce the number of starving children in the U.S. and throughout the world. Millions of highly nutritious, life-saving meals for hungry children and their families in the U.S. and developing countries are packaged and distributed annually.
While Kids Against Hunger is a global program, the day that I participated the meals stayed in Indiana.  In 2013 this program fed enough Indiana children to fill Lucas Oil Stadium. Sixty-five thousand Indiana children received a nutritious meal they might not have received otherwise.

November 7, 2015

Farmer Directions

With harvest wrapped up and my share of the hog work somewhat under control I decided to hit the road!  I wanted to see my oldest at Iowa State so I loaded up the boy, left Chris in charge of the homestead and pointed the truck west!
In our road trips I have learned we aren't your normal tourists and what we designate as landmarks during our journey sometimes makes people Google it to figure out exactly where we are. Who knew that not everyone uses Kinze Manufacturing as landmark?
Here's how we find our way to the middle of Iowa:
Jump on 74 West and put the hammer down. Once you see the first billboard for The Beef House you get a craving for a good steak. Now you know you are close to the Illinois-Indiana state line. The fields start to open up, and you better have your radio tuned to 99.1 FM WIXY classic country. This combination lets you know you are on the right track.
Once you hit the Illinois state line you take a deep sigh. At this point, things start out positive with comments like, "isn't it pretty?" or "can you imagine working in fields this big?"
This remark - and being about half way across the state of Illinois - will turn to the realization, "the grass (or corn in this case) is always greener on the other side of the fence (or state line in this case)."
If you hear the ever-popular remark, "If my ancestors' wagon wheels would have just lasted a week longer we might be farming here instead of in Indiana," that signifies that you are almost three-quarters of the way across Illinois.
You know you are really on the right track when every mile or so someone in the truck points out a new piece of John Deere equipment being hauled the opposite direction. As long you are catching glimpses of large John Deere dealerships, Pioneer and Dekalb seed plants, you're good to go!
We take note of the Illinois-Iowa border but our true landmark is the world's largest truck stop. It doesn't matter who you are – it piques your interest. Admit it!
Keep your truck pointed west and when you see the stack of grain carts and the folding planter you will know you have reached the next landmark – Kinze Manufacturing. Watching the planter fold fascinates kids and farmers of all ages!
Just east of Des Moines be sure to look off to your right for the combine graveyard, now on my bucket list to visit! Des Moines and the turn off onto 30N lets you know you are only miles from ISU!
It was a great trip and one of my favorites to drive - I love a good road trip!

PS We attended ISU's Homecoming game against the Texas Longhorns and ISU WON - now trying to convince Chris I need to be at every home game!!

October 16, 2015

Yes, they let me operate equipment........

This morning I had serious trouble operating the blender while making my smoothie!  I jumped in Chris’ truck (a diesel manual) to meet him at the hog barns to load hogs, backed out of the drive and killed it in the middle of the road!  After loading hogs I went to get in my truck hooked to the trailer and completely walked into the gooseneck of the trailer with my head…….it hurt, I cussed.

As I headed down 44 pulling the trailer with 30 head of fat hogs on it I wondered if that was the smartest thing for those on the road with me.  I couldn’t run the blender this morning and I bumped my head after that!

You ever get a prescription filled and read the ‘warnings’?  I do, sometimes - my favorite is “Do not operate heavy machinery while taking this medication” - I always giggle and think when would I ever run heavy machinery!   It honestly didn’t occur to me until today as I sit in the 8220 on grain cart duty…….tractors are probably considered heavy machinery!

I tend to get tired and slap happy about this point in harvest but slap happy sure beats crying on my dirty kitchen floor......cause I've done that too!!

I went from running the 8220 with the grain cart to the 4640 when Chris asked me to disc the ground he was getting ready to plant wheat on!  You can stomp on the differential lock all you want in the 4640, that steering wheel ain’t going no where!!  I can also verify that you can stomp on the steering wheel pedal in the 8220 when your sinking in soft ground and it won’t help……it really will only frustrate you farther because not only are you sinking but the steering wheel has just flown out of your hands and you're briefly baffled!

Chris said “jump in the 9200 and chisel plow the wheat stubble”.  I jump in the tractor take off pause at the end of the drive to check for traffic and as cool as I can give the little orange knob on the arm rest a flick.  And then was seriously curious as to why the tractor wasn’t moving all while I had my foot engaging the clutch……but apparently simply moving the high low knob forward does nothing to make that tractor move! 

And don’t get me started on ‘here’s the clutch but DON’T use it’……..on this tractor or in that semi but you will need it in that tractor and this semi!  We will save that for another time!

Happy Harvesting and Be Safe

P.S. The little round clicker button on the floor of the 8220 don't make the lights brighter.........no matter how many times you tap it with your foot!

September 25, 2015

Farmers Log Harvest 2015

Farmers Log...........I've been binge watching the original Star Trek, can you tell!

I currently have the desire to say 'Jent Out' instead of 10-4 on the 2 way radios, when I emerge from the tractor after several hours I wonder what the atmosphere outside of my 'ship' is like and when things happen I often say out loud to myself "Grain Cart Operators Log, Harvest 2015, Day 4........."

Yes, people a tractor is a lonely place sometimes, I must find ways to entertain myself!  Because constantly staring at the phone surfing social media causes you to completely miss the combine passing and the operator to have to call and tell you he really needs you right away - or so I have heard.

This is day 5 of harvest for us and this here is a sample of what my log might look like:

Harvest 2015: Day 1, Morning.  The sun is shining bright, equipment lined up, shiny and pointed towards the field.  Sky is blue, the corn and beans are ready, everyone is smiling.  Not sure what to expect in terms of yield but let's bring this crop home.

Harvest 2015: Day 1, Mid-Afternoon.  Down to 2 trucks, but under control.  Sun is still shining, most people still smiling.

Harvest 2015: Day 2, Early Afternoon.  Panic set in when I realized meal planning didn't pan out this week-family would insist on something for supper, had to send my Mom to the grocery store.  Thanks to her my family will live to see another day.

Harvest 2015: Day 3, Morning.  So many raido stations and so much good music.  I really should move to Nashville,  dang I can sing, sounding really good in this tractor cab right now!

Harvest 2015: Day 3, Afternoon.  Switching to beans.  What a beautiful color brown they are, sunset will be beautiful tonight.

Harvest 2015: Day 4, Early Evening, trip to Tractor Supply for wormer for cows and pigs allowed for a quick stop at grocery store for supper supplies.  Hoping that by 9pm supper time I don't accidentally worm the family and feed the chicken alfredo to the cows. Stay posted.

Harvest 2015: Day 5, Early Morning.  No clean jeans, but does it really matter?  Have to feed hogs and cows anyway, if someone notices I will tell them it was from feeding - that's true it just wasn't today!

Harvest 2015: Day 5, Afternoon.  Running beans in a smaller field, don't need the grain cart.  Asked to disc ground in front of manure spreader because knives won't go in the hard ground.  Jumped in the 4640 stomped between the pedals......and nothing happened.  I quickly realized that would not lower the steering wheel, quick glance around to make sure no one noticed and went about my business.

Pretty sure I can guess what the last few days of entries might be:

Harvest 2015: Day 13.  I can still sing like nobody's business but the radio stations must only have access to about 5 songs.  Still think I should move to Nashville!

Harvest 2015: Feels like Day 3792.  Lost in a black hole of time, drank from a measuring cup this morning and fed in my pajamas.  My jeans now stand up in corner by themselves and I fear the children have forgotten how to eat at a decent hour and at the table.......the children - where are the children????

In all reality I love the busy seasons on the farm but it does make for long days!  Be careful!

September 6, 2015

Is it really a promotion?

I consider myself low man on the totem pole around here, I still am there just aren’t as many people above me now!  Our full time guy moved on to greener pastures and by that I mean a better job-not the great beyond!  He had been with us for 15 years, started when he was in high school, I already miss him!

So here we are right before harvest and I’m trying to convince Chris we can do this!  Hogs and crop work - we got this!  And so far I have only burnt up one belt…….it’s been a whole week!

I tend to jump into things feet first ready to go, most of the time without planning or forethought.  Sometimes those unplanned things hit me at the oddest times, like this morning for instance.  

Farrowing is upon us this week.  Cleaning up afterbirth makes me quesy-there I admitted it.  Quesy as in I need to step outside, throwing up quesy.  It’s stringy!!!!  I have sleeved cows, been up in sows to pull pigs, I don’t know why that doesn’t make me sick but it doesn’t!  But cleaning up afterbirth.........even the thought, excuse me while I step outside!

And working piglets!  I know how, I have told Chris for 23 years if the need arises I can do it………I can’t, I was wrong.  I’m not opposed to it, I know the need and value but once again that feeling in my stomach hits me.

I can vaccinate any size hog, I can move hogs of any size, I can drive the truck and trailer to sell hogs, I will gladly haul manure with a smile and I will pressure wash barns all day but please don't make me clean up afterbirth or work piglets!  Eventually I will get grinding feed down as well, and it won’t involve burning up a belt I swear, but I’m trying to figure out how to get passed that feeling in my stomach for those two particular jobs!

Now if I could just convince him doing laundry and dishes makes my stomach quesy!!!

July 27, 2015

A Bizarre To Do List

This week is an interesting one!  I don't normally make a 'to do' list per say because at the end of the day it's just depressing to look over it and see nothing crossed off.  I seem to spend all my time putting out other peoples fires while mine burn out of control.

But this week it seemed like a fun idea, only because I knew exactly what I had to accomplish and how bizarre it would look written down!

The beginning of the week had me still dragging from our county fair with the desire to not move fast and sit down often but the list looming in my head kept me trudging forward.

I hate school shopping, of course I hate shopping!  Chris has been asking me for weeks to fly some corn fields with the UAV so I knew I needed to get that done!  And vaccinations on hogs are timely, this was a priority!

It's not often, or really ever, I get to write 'pack for China' on a to-do list!  When I was a kid I never dug a deep hole because I once heard someone say 'you could dig a hole to China if it was deep enough' - no thanks, I was happy right where I was!

Going to China and Vietnam were no where near my bucket list but when a once in lifetime opportunity presents itself especially to learn more about agriculture, well China here I come!

I'm not gonna lie, I'm not the checkoff's biggest fan!  Every 5 years when the referendum comes up for vote, you will probably find me at the beginning of the line.  So an opportunity to see how those funds are being utilized seemed like a learning experience I couldn't pass up!

In all honestly I also don't know much about how checkoff funds work other than it is funds taken out of our checks.  I know that with soybean half go to National and half stay in the state, I know that it seems like a small share: half of one percent of the price received per bushel of soybeans.

I know what you are thinking "half of a percent? Come on Jent" but add it up, on any farm its a fair amount of money!  Especially when the program isn't fully understood by those paying in - but then I figure maybe that's my fault and this is an excellent opportunity to learn more!

So half way around the world I will go - scared and excited all at the same time!  Well as soon as I finish my 'to do' list!

July 10, 2015

The Color Of The Ribbon

I wrote this original article last year for Indiana Prairie Farmer but as our county fair approaches the thoughts of blue ribbons and purple banners came racing back - so I am going to leave this right here to remind myself and anyone else who needs it what is truly important!

County fair time brings about numerous Facebook status about Purple ribbons and banners.  But for every kid out there that earns that coveted purple item there is a handful of kids who took just as much pride and put in just as many hours of work-where are the proud parent status updates for those kids?

I speak from the perspective of a blue…….but mostly red, white, yellow and green ribbon family!  The first thing I told each kid before they started 4-H was we aren't in this for the purple banners or ribbons, if that is the only thing you are doing this for than you aren’t in this for the right reason.  Don’t get me wrong, I encourage my kids to do their very best but just because it doesn’t earn the purple doesn’t mean it was a waste of time.

I sat in the cattle barn after the Wednesday evening steer show watching what felt like every other family in the barn hang their purple banners…..we earned none.  I was tired, feeling defeated and hungry.  Chris and Cole took me to Chili’s, it was off the fairgrounds and I ate a salad and drank two huge glasses of milk and adjusted my attitude.

I returned to the cattle barn with a different perspective.

The two steers my son showed he watched be born.  For a week every morning and every day the second he got off the bus he would run out to the barn to check and see if they were born.  He put the halter on them for the first time, he broke them to lead.

The steer our middle child took we wanted to leave at home.  We weren't sure she had worked with it enough and he wasn’t all that pretty.  We took him anyway!  He was one of our best behaved animals and the smile on her face when they got 2nd in his class in the market steer show was more than worth it.  She had seen him born, from a cow we have had for 8 years, she had put the halter on him for the first time and broke him herself.

The heifer our oldest showed spent two days living in our kitchen when she was less than a week old.  At two days old she was getting weaker and weaker only to realize she was blind from a vitamin deficiency and wasn't able to find her Momma’s udder to nurse. Our daughter saw the heifer be born, helped nurse her back to health, put the halter on her for the first time and broke her herself.

We had worked hard before and during the fair and I was going to be proud of every single ribbon my kids earned.  We left the Johnson County fair with blue, red, yellow, white and green ribbons and my kids earned every single one.


So if you follow me on any number of social media channels my updates In the next couple of weeks will more than likely include my kids having fun and working hard, hopefully grinning from ear to ear but the color purple most likely won't show up!

July 3, 2015

4-H Paperwork - Keeping It Real

There is so much I love about the 4-H program…….project paperwork is not one of them!  The concept itself sounds great - answer questions about what you learned, keep track of money spent, and turn it in to be responsible.

But we are an ‘oh shit’ don’t forget the paperwork family!  Just ask our 4-H leaders - I stalk them down every year at work or home to sign our paperwork on the way to turn it in.  Normally that is also the day we fill it out!

But a few weeks ago I walked past the office door and witness my son sitting at the computer when he pipes up and says “Filling out 4-H paperwork Mom and don’t worry I’m really kissing butt in here”!  My kids are brutally honest.

Ask me to produce an up-to-date check book register and I will fail - but ask me about 4-H paperwork and I can immediately produce all 10 years worth - we are strong believers in ‘reference’ material.  I was looking for a crops record sheet for corn and got caught up reading the answers from old records my kids have turned in.

A few of my favorites

……these are actual quotes pulled off of their turned in paperwork
2nd year-Livestock: “I learned that it makes Mom really mad when you don’t keep the water trough full.”
8th year-Genealogy: “The only problem I encountered was my Mom has lost my birth certificate.”
10th year-Livestock: “Over 10 years I have learned the banner is not the best part of showing cattle.  Showing cattle should be about wanting to spend time in the barn, talking to cows when real people get annoying and having unconditional love for your cow but still know the reason we raise livestock.”

Emi Lou:
2nd year-Photography: “I helped my Mom learn that she doesn’t need to constantly be standing over my shoulder telling how to take pictures.”
5th year-Photography: “I learned that when taking pictures for this project it is a good idea to start earlier than the day before the project is due and doing paperwork as Mom is yelling she is leaving to turn the project in is dangerous.” 

1st year-Livestock “Three things I learned this year are 1. if you work hard it pays off 2.have fun in the show ring 3. cows are fun”
2nd year-Livestock “It is not always fun to feed but it has to be done.”

A few observations:

Crops is an adult project.  Oh my kids still take it, they love it-it's easy for them!

I think that a child knowing how much their project cost is important and for some the only way is on the record sheet.  My kids each opened a checking account their first year of 4-H for just this reason.  They may not pay every single expense out of their own checkbook but crunching those numbers on paper makes it real.

The boy may have filled the paperwork out early, he may of made 2 copies for security but he put them in the same manilla envelope and put them in a safe place-that safe place is yet to be located again!

4-H is an amazing program and while paperwork is obviously not our favorite part or our forte we are more than willing to do it for the number of pros in this organization far outweigh any of the cons!

June 27, 2015

Questions and Quotes

I had the opportunity earlier this week to spend 2 days in Raleigh North Carolina at Bayer Crop Sciences Research Triangle Park.  Why you ask.....well I haven't figured that out yet.  It's a question I am wrestling with when I am offered these amazing opportunities and at little to no expense to me, except my time!

Why me?  I have had some amazing opportunities since I started blogging and I am grateful for every one of them, but why me?  I'm pretty blunt, I have opinions and I'm not afraid to share them.  I also believe whole heartedly in choice: for both farmers and consumers. And in that I don't believe one company is right for everyone, that one way of farming is right for every farmer or that consumers shouldn't have choices.  Farming is personal, emotional and a business - a tough combination to juggle for the farmer and tough to fully grasp for the consumer.

I have spent the past few days marinating, contemplating and reviewing my tweets and the tweets from those that shared this experience with me.  So what I am going to share are just a few of the quotes that truly stuck with me while there and then a few questions I am still contemplating.

 "Noise, such as the number of Facebook likes shouldn't have any weigh-in on wether science works or not."
 James Blome, President & CEO for Bayer CropScience LP and the Head of Crop Protection for the North American region. 

"We need another green revolution to move agriculture ahead." 
Catherine Feuillet, Head of Trait Research, Bayer CropScience 

This quote.....given on June 4, 1963 in his opening remarks to The World Food Congress is still true to this day.

"1 in 12 people work in agriculture, 12 in 12 people need agriculture."
Liam Condon, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Bayer CropScience and Chairman of the Board of Management of Bayer CropScience AG 

Why is science encouraged, accepted and applauded in all areas of life except when it comes to the one area that is the sheer sustenance of life itself?

We can talk about the 'moveable middle' but until we focus on them and ignore the squeaky wheel I feel like we are wasting our time.  I think you can explain modern agriculture all day but unless the people we talk to have an open mind it won't work!

So then my final question was to myself:   Does taking these trips make me a shill?

I honestly had to look up what the word really meant!

And then I answered myself - Maybe I am......I am a shill for modern production agriculture.

Is that such a bad thing?  I am more than willing to accept these learning experiences from any company and share them honestly with anyone who is interested in listening to me go on and on about the importance of choice and the sheer need for all types of agriculture including modern technology in farming to grow food!  But I don't hide it so maybe I'm not a shill.....I guess I really don't care!

And last but not least they left the giant scissors outside after the ribbon cutting ceremony on the new facilities........using giant scissors is an item that is actually on my metaphorical 'bucket list':

Bucket List Item: Use Giant Scissors - CHECK

June 19, 2015

But my BonBon's might melt!

I was at the grocery store the other day unloading a cart full of groceries onto the conveyer belt while my oldest (19 years old) was literally having a crisis over what candy to choose instead of helping me!

They didn’t have any Sour Skittles - for the love of all that is good in America how could they not offer up Sour Skittles in the checkout aisle, she was beyond distraught because and I quote:
 “I don’t have a backup plan,
I was positive they would
have Sour Skittles”

She then proceeds to ask if we could go to 3 other stores in town to hunt down this candy that is so required.  The conversation went exactly like this:

Oldest: “We need to find Sour Skittles can you take me to Walgreens, CVS and Kroger to look for them.  You really don’t have anything else to do today!”

Me: “But my Bon Bon’s might melt”  in my most sarcastic tone

Oldest: “You bought Bon Bon’s?  I want some!”  in her most serious as all get out tone

It reminded me how much I hate the question “So you don’t work, what do you do all day?”

I kind of quit making ‘to do’ lists a long time ago because I never got anything crossed off, I was too busy putting out other people’s fires to worry about my own!

I do a whole lot of this and a little of that some days while other day a whole lot of that and just a little of this!

A week after the Sour Skittles Debacle was a day I actually had a plan, a list if you will!

At 5:10pm Chris walks in the door hollers he has time to work through the cows let’s go get this done!  Our 'herd' has names not numbers so it's not an all day job-just not a job I had dressed for this particular day as it wasn't on my list-meetings and computer work were on the agenda, the reason for the non-manure clothing choice of that day.  Ummmmmm my plan was going quite nicely and this was not part of it but I changed clothes and we went!

Hour and half, lots of swearing, yelling, broken syringe, trip to the barns, and more yelling later I drove like a bat out of hell home and ran in the house!

I striped, laid under the ceiling fan for 30 seconds, knocked the most noticeable chunks of organic matter off my face and out of my hair, spritzed with Febreeze, threw my clean clothes back on and was out the door!  My truck needed gas and I needed a beer polar pop!

I sincerely apologize to anyone who had to sit down wind of me at either meeting!

These are all reasons I quit making lists at the beginning of the day!  It’s more fun to make a list of everything you accomplished in a day than to stare at a list of things that didn’t get marked off because you were too busy helping others mark things off their list!

I may not be the busiest person around but it feels like I do a lot wether it be in the house, barns, on the farm or in my truck running kids, parts or livestock- if it needs done and someone to do it that person is me!

And let’s be honest those Cookie Jam lives aren’t going to use themselves up!

June 11, 2015

The Lesser of Two Evils

They say pigs are one of the most intelligent animals there is.  Chris says if that's true then they don’t apply themselves!  I couldn’t agree more! Ever tried moving hogs, of any size, even when they are out of feed and you are moving them to where there is feed!

Hogs like to do 2 things: eat, and eat some more.  And when there is nothing to eat they tear things up out of boredom.

We use two different rations in our nurseries, a starter pellet out of bags and then a ration that we grind.  They stay in a nursery room for approximately seven weeks at which time we like to have the feeders empty.  We wash the room, wash the feeders and then fill with the starter pellets for the next group, waste not want not.  No feeding the pit monster if we can help it!

Just so happens last Sunday morning 4 pens of nursery pigs in one of the rooms had empty feeders, that means moving pigs into the finisher!  That job fell to the middle kid and me!

They say patience is a virtue, it’s just not one of mine.....and yes I have some virtues!  Moving hogs requires some patience, I don’t have the muscle power to push hogs, I need them to use some of this supposed intelligence they have.

I carry an ‘impatient stick’, I honestly don’t give it a charge often, I mostly just use it to poke with-which annoys Chris because he claims I break them that way, but it’s at the ready when I need it!

Emi Lou however tells me that singing to them makes them move easier - I’ve heard her sing…..I think they are running out of earshot from her!  She has a wide array of music she shares for any kind of music loving pig.  Just in the 2 hours we worked Sunday I heard opera, rap, a little “Ring of Fire”, along with some Jason Aldean not that she left out southern rock - her rendition of  “Fire On The Mountain” could move any pig forward faster, and she easily transition’s into a little Quiet Riot with “Come on Feel The Noise”!

I don’t know which is the lesser of two evils - the lady with the impatient stick or the singing pig moving girl - maybe hogs are intelligent and indecisive so they just don't move!

But all in all her singing is a small price to pay for the hard work my favorite hog farming kid does - she is my go-to for hog work!  She knows how to work livestock with skill and not just her singling skills!

June 5, 2015

Cattle, Tattoos and Midlife Crisis'

I bush hogged our cattle pasture yesterday.  Eight acres, the batwing bush hog, the 4440 in A3.  Even at full bunny that gives you lots of time to think- 3 hours of thinking to be exact!

Of all the things I could of contemplated, all the world problems I could've attempted to solve, all the productive things I could of accomplished……… my mind settled on cattle, tattoos and what my midlife crisis should be.

I have often wondered if I would have a midlife crisis.  Does it just hit you, how do you know it’s a midlife crisis, are you supposed to admit it’s a midlife crisis, how do you even know when you are midlife?

I’m 45, if I am lucky enough to live to 90 I am currently at my midlife, so I am prime midlife crisis point.  If I don’t make it to 90 I need to be in midlife crisis crunch mode and need to be getting it underway!

I’m sure there are cliche midlife crisis scenarios.  But I’m not much of a sports car convertible person, never wanted to go sky-diving, don’t want to dress younger than my age, no desire to party to much-I’m pretty comfortable in my pick-up truck, keeping my boots on the ground, jeans and bedtime most nights before 10pm.

But then it hit me - cattle and tattoos! And not a cow tattoo or a tattoo that looks like the ones you give cows but actually buying more cows and getting a tattoo.  Maybe I am in the midst of my midlife crisis and didn’t even know it!  Does that mean I am actually right on schedule?

I love cows.  I want more, Chris has to stop me more often than not from just stock piling cattle.  I would fence every inch of grass we have for cows if Chris would let me!

And a tattoo!  I want one-I have for a while!  But in the early years of marriage I was threatened with divorce if I got one.  But I figure now we are probably stuck with each other for a while and maybe I could get away with it!

Chris always says “Do you know where that tattoo will end up over time?”  Well Chris I want it on my foot……so if I live to be 90 the only place it could possibly end up is the bottom of my foot!!!

I’ve been told I’m not buying any more cattle in the near future and maybe the tattoo is a cliche midlife crisis……but maybe I am actually ok with cliche.

Or maybe, just maybe the more I bring up getting a tattoo the more cattle he will let me buy for not getting one????? 

May 28, 2015

My Kitchen Suffers An Identity Crisis

I plopped down in the comfy chair the other day and as tired as I was jumped right back up when the nut driver I just sat on caused me slight discomfort.  That's when I realized my kitchen suffered a severe case of identity crisis....was I even really in my kitchen, I looked around and I wasn't sure.

Right before we started planting I walked in the kitchen to find Chris emptying the dishwasher.  My heart melted just a little until I caught sight of the Capture Insecticide flow meter parts on the counter.  He needed the dishwasher to wash them!  While not the heart melting gesture I had first envisioned I opted to see the glass half full and be thankful he hadn't asked to empty it for him.

In an antique crock on my Hoosier Kitchen are miscellaneous sizes of nuts and bolts, a pair of needle nose pliers, several screwdrivers and various small items, I honestly don't know what they are but I do know they don't belong in the kitchen.

There is a bag of calf milk replacer in the corner with a DeWalt cordless drill next to it and half bag of sweet corn seed casually leaning against the counter next to the bar stools.  The calf bottle is sitting on the kitchen window ledge next to the little hand made wooden cross.

The medicine cabinet in the kitchen?  Let's just hope the kids don't get a fever, all 4 of the thermometers are clearly labeled 'LIVESTOCK' in black sharpie!  On the bright side.....all 4 the thermometers are labeled.  Sitting right beside the Tylenol bottle, which I was beginning to need, was a bottle of Lutalyse.

In the refrigerator is a wide assortment of vaccines and medications.  Need a syringe to administer?  If not on the counter just check under the sink, on the Hoosier Kitchen or next to the phone.

My Kitchen Suffers An Identity Crisis

But maybe my favorite was the calf pulling chains laying next to the box of pie crust dough!  Yes, we had pulled a calf that particultar day.  Yes, I rinsed them. Yes, I buy pie crust dough and still make a killer pie- just in half the time!

Least we not forget the sheer number of boots that spend most of their time scattered on the floor, along with the dirt and other organic substance that come in on them!  And the livestock that has lived in my kitchen......a story for another time.

Buy my kitchen is not alone in it's issues, a lot of times I find my kitchen supplies in the shop!  My measuring cups sprout legs this time of year only to be found on the spray trailer.  In need of a meat thermometer?  Check the trucks and grain bins, they double as soil thermometers and for measuring grain temperatures as it comes out of the grain dryer in the fall.

Such is the life I live and love!

Confirmed Diagnosis: A Farmwife's Kitchen

March 5, 2015

Some days it's a struggle.....

.....just to put on real pants!

I'm not kidding - I'm not even talking dress clothes - tights, panty hose, dress pants, spanx, dresses, high heels - I'm just talking jeans!

And I love jeans, I once even had made my wishes known I wanted to be buried in jeans!  I have since changed my mind - I have a friend who was a undertaker, was as in he does something else now not 'was' as in he needed his own undertaker - but I digress!  Did you know to get jeans on a 'past' person most of the time they have to cut the seem out of the butt?  I've spent the majority of my adult life trying to keep my ass in my jeans I decided I didn't want to spend eternity with it hanging out!

My job is even more casual than casual Friday yet there are days the thought of wrestling into a pair of jeans makes me cringe!  So much so that the other evening, say 4pm- that is considered evening right? - I had to take Emi Lou to softball practice and I was already wearing my pj's.  As I walked out the door Chris said "Really?  I just hope you don't have a wreck?"  I told him I was wearing clean underwear - that's what I was always told about being in a wreck - pray you have clean underwear - no one ever said anything about what kind of pants you were supposed to be wearing!

Boots and PJ's - I think if we stick together we can make this acceptable - who's with me?

But then I suck it up-literally and put my real pants on because really life is awesome!

March 1, 2015

What's it like working with family?

I love the saying:  The best part of my job is working with family, and the worst part of my job is working with family!

It's true!

Mother Nature put a nix in our plans the last couple of weeks therefore things didn't go as they should of!  Things always work out so well in my head!

Following a long two weeks of snow, freezing weather, hog work not going as planned, travel and arriving home at 1am Thursday night/Friday morning brought about a 2 hour delay for school (for which I am thankful-2 hours extra sleep) led to 2 days of hog barn work in not our usual fashion!

When weaning pigs timing is everything-it is imperative to follow a schedule strictly!  Our breeding, farrowing and weaning schedule is mapped out for years ahead of time.  Once pigs are weaned from a  sow, the actual taking the pigs off the sow or them no longer drinking her milk, will start her cycle again for reproduction, so to keep everything running timing is key.  We wean on Friday's so that those sows come into heat the following week, can be bred and will give birth again 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days later.

We were shorthanded this time and had to shake things up a bit to stay on schedule.  Cole took the Friday after school shift of helping move sows around in the gestation barn and pulling sows out of farrowing.  Emi Lou then helped Saturday with moving the piglets to the nursery barn.  Normally this is all done on Friday so this was a different way of working for us but will still keep us and the sows on schedule.

Working with our kids is amazing.  We work well as family but for Chris and I to get to work with them individually like this past weekend was a pleasure!

Emi Lou is our hog farmer -

We call her muscles-she is a strong willed hard worker!

February 10, 2015

Merry Country Christmas

Yep....you read that right.....Merry Country Christmas!

I know it's February, I know I'm late but sometimes it's just how I roll!

I love the Christmas In The Country gift exchange!

My secret box was filled with a plethora of goodies from Nicole at Midwestern at Heart!

And by goodies I mean almost all eatable-my kind of gift-so good were the chocolate crinkle cookies that I pulled out first that I immediately started eating them!  And then before I even finished opening the rest of the box and there was still cookie in my mouth and powdered sugar on my fingers I Facebooked Nicole, letting her know how much I appreciated the gift-even before I knew what else was in the box-what could go wrong with chocolate crinkle cookies on top!!!

After the chocolate crinkle cookies there was wagon wheel shaped pasta (gone the next day as my kids snagged it and ate in all in one sitting), some amazing cherry jam (which I hid and kept all for myself) and the cutest measuring spoons - they look like snowflakes!

Thank You Nicole - I so enjoyed my package!

Thank You so much to these girls - they probably won't let me play next year since my manners were so horrible this year!!

Laurie of Country Linked
Jamie of This Uncharted Rhoade
Erin of Diaries from the Dirt Road 
Robyn of The Ranch Wife Chronicles

January 22, 2015

Perspective Cropping

Ever wonder if your getting the whole picture?  My friend Nicole over at Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom had a Facebook status the other day saying that her brother told her jokingly that she made farmwife seem like all Skittle, rainbows and unicorn poop.....followed by the news that their first calf of the year had been born dead.

Last Saturday morning as I was feeding the sunrise was beautiful so I of course snapped a pic on my phone - instantly Facebooked, Instagramed, and Tweeted......

"Good Morning from the hog barns!"

That evening as I was making last rounds I walked out of the gestation barn looked up and saw this....

"This was my view as I stepped out of the gestation barn tonight!  While I strongly dislike living so close to Indianapolis I love how the city lights silhouetted some of our bins!"

and of course instantly Facebooked, Instragramed and Tweeted!

This morning as I fed I walked out of the gestation barn looked up at the exact same point as I did last Saturday at the bins and realized I had no desire to take a pic!  It was like it was a totally different perspective.  It was a cold gray morning - and not the frosty, crisp, steely gray that is pretty but a dull gray sky and the ground is still slightly squishy.

I snapped this pic from the exact same point that I took it the other night and got a completely different feeling.  So I walked over to where I took the sunrise pic and snapped one of those and again a completely different feeling.

I can't believe what a different view it appears in this picture!  All I was thinking was one more load of fats, I really should of not worn my pj's under by coveralls cause not my pj's stink, need to remind Chris to fix the waterer at Fred's, we need new funnel cups in the gestation barn-do we have any or need to order some, who is going to wash the nursery before weaning tomorrow, should of mowed this lot one more time last fall............

I walked over to take a picture like the morning one and found the same feelings....

.......just a manure spreader that needs repaired, it's sitting next to the composter and not the kind in your garden but a 3 bay concrete composter for the barns  - no stunning sky in the background or filter......just a $h*t spreader, overgrown weeds and a gray sky.

All this 'connection' that people are getting on the internet is amazing, I'm the first person to admit that I am addicted to it.  But I wonder if we are getting the whole picture and without a filter!

One of my favorite sayings and a constant reminder to myself when I am perusing social media is:

Chris always says I wear my emotions on the outside, while that isn't always pretty I like the fact that when I look back on my posts and pictures I get the whole picture of my life and not just the highlight reel because it's what laying on the cutting room floor that makes you who you really are and usually bring the biggest laughs in hind sight!  I also know that if we didn't see 'skittles, rainbows and unicorn poop' most of the time we wouldn't still be on the farm!

January 4, 2015

Yep, weekends and holidays......

I get the privilege of feeding the livestock on weekends and holidays till Chris recovers from back surgery and I am really enjoying it!

I'm trying to think of the last time I was in charge of feeding solely by myself!  Now don't laugh I am under no illusion that I am actually in charge of anything but I have been following the instruction and do the physical act of all the feeding all by myself!

I love feeding throughout the holidays and in the winter.  While the weather is unpredictable it seems more relaxed, slower paced and can take a little more time in the barns.

I feed in my pi's most days!  When I know I am not going to spend most of the day in the barns I just throw on my Columbia wash pants, grab my barn jacket, boots and head out!  Hog barns smell-so I take care of the feeding and chores and clean up after - I'm smart like that!

I have learned several things the last few weeks while feeding:

  • I am terrible at slinging feed buckets.  I think I must not be strong enough, I tend to end up just dumping them.  I tried really hard to sling it the other day and ended up tossing the entire bucket into the pen of sows and hitting one of them on the head with the bucket!
  • Feeding livestock is easier than feeding my kids.  Pigs and cows aren't picky, they are excited to see me coming with feed and never turn their nose up or complain.
  • Sows in farrowing barn are getting 3 scoops of feed and my instructions said to give them a scoop of soybean meal if they looked too skinny to me.  Are my perceptions of a skinny sow different as a woman that that of what the guys consider a skinny sow?
  • Picking up deads will never get easier for me.  It is heartbreaking every single time.
  • I don't like to listen to pigs eat but could sit for hours listening to cattle eat.

And something I learned the hard way:  Kids really like to run augers, they will therefore fill the feed cart for farrowing barns to full for me.  I will then attempt to move it anyways and will spill it - only making more work for myself!

And lookie what I found Christmas Eve!
After a great family supper at my Mom's with family, Christmas Eve Service at Boggstown, Chris and I went down to make one last round through the barns and found a brand new litter of babies - just one of the many perks of my job!!