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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Feeding Time...

Obviously these pictures (and video) were shot a while ago.  Currently, there is snow on the ground and it is pretty cold!  In fact, I think these were taken almost a year and a half ago. It's a bit of a tease seeing the corn in the field and the blue skies, but Spring will be here soon enough! I never got around to blogging them (surprise, surprise!).  So, in honor of my monthly Ag question and answer segment, I thought it seemed appropriate to finally blog them!

It's a common question nowadays. People often ask what we feed our cattle.  Once we tell them that we give them a balanced diet of haylage, dry hay, corn, corn silage and supplements they then want to know exactly how we feed them.

Everything goes in to the red silage mixer you see below.  Brad is using the skidloader to add the corn silage..
This is the silage, which Brad is putting in the mixer above.  We don't use silos anymore, but instead use these silage bags which keep the silage fresh.
A close-up shot of the silage.  Silage is made when the field corn is still green.  We use a chopper to harvest the corn and, unlike during corn harvest when only the corn is saved, the whole plant is used and it makes this sweet and juicy mixture that the cattle love!


Next, some dry hay is added...
Then the corn and supplements which are already pre-mixed.  It is coming out of the auger from a grain bin on the other side of the wall...
Now, since all these pictures were taken a year and a half ago, the haylage wasn't part of the diet at that time.  It has since been added, but obviously I don't have any pictures.

Everything that we feed our cattle is measured precisely.  They are fed based on their weight to create a balanced ration.  Just like measuring flour and sugar when you are baking cookies, we measure the hay, corn, etc for the calves.

Everything gets all mixed together.  Check out the video at the end of this post!

Some humor on the side of the mixer;)



Ready to eat...


Here are a couple videos to show the mixer in action.  Everything is mixed together extremely well, just like a mixer at home.  This ensures that the cattle eat everything that is added to aid in a healthy diet.

video

video


And that's it!  That's how we feed our cattle!
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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Mini Pizzas...Where Does My Food Come From?....

As a mom of  three girls and after reading countless books with them, I have noticed that farming in kid's books isn't very realistic anymore.  Very few farmers have two chickens, a goat, a horse, a cow, a pig and a duck or two!  The average consumer is 2-3 generations removed from the farm which leads to a lot of unanswered questions about where our food comes from.  As odd as it seems, a lot of kids today think that food comes from the grocery store.  They are unaware of the farmer who raised that food to get it into the grocery store.  

I guess I wasn't alone in noticing this because fellow blogger, Crystal at Mom for Less also noticed the problem.  I am excited to be partnering with her and Indiana's Family of Farmers to bring you a little segment on my blog to help teach kids about farming.  Whether it be where food comes from, what crops need to grow..whatever.  Crystal will be sharing an educational lesson on Ag and I will be doing a craft every month relating to Ag.  They will both be on the same topic.  Since February 8th was National Pizza Day, the topic for this month is pizza.  Do your kids know where all those toppings come from?  They all came from some type of farm!  To find out visit Crystal's blog.

This month I'm not exactly sharing a craft, but it still got the girls involved.  One of the girls' favorite foods are mini pizzas!  Lucky for me they are so easy to make and the girls like helping me make them.  In fact, they can make them on their own which is an additional plus!  I don't argue when someone else agrees to cook!



Begin by browning your sausage, if using.  (I forgot to take a picture of this step!  Sorry!)

Next, separate the English Muffins into halves and place on a baking sheet...

Add the pizza sauce!  We like a lot of sauce, so I always have to remind my helpers to be generous;)
Now, pile on the toppings...
We have a lot of cheese pizza lovers in our family!  As you are doing all these steps, you can talk about where each ingredient comes from.


Bake and enjoy!!








Mini Pizzas

Ingredients
  • English muffins
  • Pizza Sauce
  • shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • pepperoni, sausage, green peppers, onions
Cooking Directions
  1. Brown sausage (if using) and drain.
  2. Separate the English Muffins into halves and place on baking sheet.
  3. Spread desired amount of pizza sauce onto English Muffins.
  4. Add desired amount of Mozzarella cheese.
  5. Pile on the toppings of your choice!
  6. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Robert Redford...

Since tomorrow is Valentine's Day, I'm sharing my valentine's favorite recipe of all time.  Robert Redford.  There are several variations to this recipe, and I even remember my mom using butterscotch pudding in it when we were little, but this is the recipe I have used for many years and the one he grew up with so it's not something to mess with.  Although, he seems to think the name, Robert Redford, is a little outdated and could stand a change...like to Angelina Jolie...but it just doesn't sound right, so Robert Redford it stays!

And just for fun, here is a picture of My Valentine and me!  I hope you all have a great weekend!





Robert Redford

Ingredients
  • 1/2 Cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 Cup chopped pecans
  • 1 Cup flour
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 Cup powdered sugar
  • 1 container cool whip, divided
  • 1 5.4 oz instant chocolate pudding
  • 3 Cups cold milk
Cooking Directions
  1. Combine butter, pecans, and flour and press in a greased 9x13 pan.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Let cool.
  3. Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, and 1/2 container cool whip.
  4. Spread on top of crust.
  5. Mix together milk and pudding and pour over cream cheese layer.
  6. Refrigerate until set. Spread remaining cool whip over chocolate.
  7. Top with additional chopped pecans, if desired.
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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Heart Cupcakes...

Valentine's Day is Saturday!  It's definitely not one of my favorite "holidays", but I still try to make it fun and festive for my family.  These heart shaped cupcakes are super easy to make and adorable!

Who knew that marbles would come in handy while baking?  Certainly not me!
I actually made heart shaped cupcakes for Valentine's day a year or two ago, but instead of using marbles, I rolled aluminum foil into a ball.  That works well too, but when I saw the marble idea that seemed easier and less time consuming to me!  I'm all about saving time!  We just so happened to have an ample supply of marbles because Santa brought the girls each a 100!  Now, if you don't have marbles, then the foil trick works too!

Prepare the cake mix according to the directions on the box.  Pour the batter into the cupcake liners.  Then place a marble in between the pan and the cupcake liner. (I forgot to snap a pick before the cupcakes went in the oven, but here is the after pic.)
 Once the cupcakes are cool, decorate as you wish.

How cute are these?  Perfect for you little (or big) valentines...;)






Heart Cupcakes

Ingredients
  • 1 15.25 oz Box of cake mix
  • icing
  • sprinkles
  • marbles
Cooking Directions
  1. Prepare cake mix according to directions on box.
  2. Place cupcake liner in muffin tins.
  3. Fill liners 1/2 full with cupcake batter.
  4. Place marble in between liner and muffin pan.
  5. Bake according to package directions.
  6. Decorate when completely cool.
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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Saying Goodbye...

In November we decided it was time to say goodbye to the crib.  If I had my choice Jo would still be sleeping in the crib, but for some reason she thought she was too big for it and would scream for hours on end when it was time to go to sleep.  So, we decided she was ready for a "big girl" bed. 

 The crib has been a staple in the nursery for the past 9 years.  It hasn't moved..except for the occasional deep cleaning which rarely happens;)...it has sat in the same exact location since we brought B, our oldest, home from the hospital.

It's full of teeth marks.  In fact, we thought about using it as a full size bed because that was the intention when we purchased this one because it is a convertible crib after all, but there were so many teeth marks on it that we decided it probably wasn't the best idea.
 Probably 99% of these teeth marks are B's.;)
 We used the same bedding for all three girls as well.  Bedding is expensive and I didn't see the point in changing it for each kid!  When we found out Jo was a girl, I thought about going all out on girly decor, but then I realized I would have to paint the room and strip the border and spend an arm and a leg on new bedding..and since she was probably going to be our last kid I quickly changed my mind!  Jo would stand on the bumper pad when she woke up so it smashed it down and no longer holds its shape.  (I know bumper pads are dangerous and they now recommend no longer using them, but my girls would not sleep without one.  They always got their legs stuck in the rails and one time my very strong husband had to physically bend the rails to get Jo's legs out..so bumper pads were a must in this house)

 She was excited to have one last party in the crib!



Then it was time to take it down.  We haven't parted with it just yet.  It's in the attic where it will probably stay...teeth marks and all!
 I have to say, I wasn't as emotional as I thought I would be.  I think I was ready for this "change".  I posted the above pic on IG (which I am farmmomof3 in case you want to follow me) and a friend commented, "Some things I was sad about and other things I wanted to shout, 'freedom'!"  That's exactly how I felt...freedom!!!!  For the first time in 9 years we don't have a baby in a crib!

Now, I wish I could say that the transition to the "big girl bed" was an easy one, but it's still something we are struggling with...3 months later.  It is getting better.

At first, Jo would take forever to fall asleep only to wake up several times in the night.  We tried everything and I don't think we slept at all for about a month...maybe an hour or two, but that was it.  It was like having a newborn in the house and I was an emotional mess!  Now, it takes her a bit to wind down, but she will stay in her bed until about 2am-3am then get in bed with us.

I've never been a fan of co-sleeping.  I don't disagree with it.  We have friends who co-sleep and if that works for you then great, it's just not something I wanted to start!  Well, guess what!  After several weeks of little or no sleep, we finally caved and she gets in bed with us when she wakes in the middle of the night.  If we try to put her back in her bed, it is a 3 hour long process.  I can hear Super Nanny in my ear saying (in her British accent), "Just tough it our for three nights and it will make a difference!"  Well, when she wakes at 3 am and is up for 3+ hours and I have to be up at 6:30 to get the other two on the bus, it just doesn't work.  And I need my sleep...just ask my husband!  We've tried just about everything...white noise, night light, oils...you name it, we've tried it!

But for now this is what is working for us...and at least we are getting a little bit of sleep.  This phase shall pass!...I hope!

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Ag Talk Q&A {Where's the Milk?}....

If you are just stopping by, welcome to my Ag Talk Q&A where, once a month I join some of my other farmwife friends and answer a question that someone has asked me about our farm.  Back in September when we hosted our farm tour,  I had my introduction speech all planned out and Brad was in charge of answering questions:)  I thought I had everything covered in my intro speech, but as everyone was gathering around so we could begin, I heard a little voice say, "Where's the milk?"  It never even crossed my mind to cover that topic, but I'm so glad the little guy asked because I was able to clarify the difference between beef  cattle and dairy cattle.
We live on a beef farm.  Unlike dairy farms, our focus is to raise cattle for food.  We do not milk our cattle.  We purchase the calves shortly after they are weaned from their mothers and when they weigh about 500-600 pounds.  We will feed them out until they are about 1200 pounds and then they are sold and sent to a processing plant in Joslin, Illinois where the meat is then sold to wholesale markets such as Wal-Mart, Kroger, etc.  You can find some of the finer cuts, such as steaks in higher-end restaurants, but some of it is shipped overseas.

So, you won't find any milk on our farm other than what's in our refrigerator!
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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Shoot Along 2015

Last year I found myself in a bit of a photography "rut."  I used to love carrying my camera everywhere and snapping thousands of photos.  I'm not really sure what happened.  Maybe it's a thing called life.  I became to busy.  It seemed more convenient to snap photos with my iPhone because I always had it with me.  My iPhone does take decent pictures, but not nearly as good as my DSLR, but I still couldn't get motivated to break out my DSLR.  I had researched different photography classes hoping I could find one that would fit my criteria and my budget, but all the ones I found seemed too 
expensive.  Also, as a busy mom of three and wife, I didn't have endless time to devote to such a complex thing.  Then one day, as I was browsing the world of Facebook, I came across a photography course called Shoot Along 2015.  It fit into my budget and seemed like something I could actually find/make the time to do.  I shared it with one of my good friends and she decided to join with me, so we are holding each other accountable;)  Thanks, Jent for taking the plunge with me:)  Each month I hope to share the pictures here for all of you to see!

Each month they give you a lesson to complete by the end of the month.  You then share your images on the forum for all the other "students" to see and critique.  This month's lesson is composition and leading lines. 

Some people, including me when I first started dabbling in photography, think that an image has to be perfectly composed, in the middle of the frame, but actually if you practice the rule of thirds it adds more interest to your photo. 
 I am notorious for tilting my camera during photo shoots;)

 The leading lines lesson was a little bit harder for me to capture than the composition.  I snapped this photo as Mel was watching for the bus out the window.  It finally clicked that this was my leading lines shot and I only had about 20 seconds to grab my camera, fumble with the settings, and snap the picture.  I still like how it turned out.  I guess you could say I was in a bit of a black and white mood this month since all my pictures for the forum are in black and white.  Maybe next month I can add a bit of color to the mix!
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