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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ag Talk Q& A...

This week I'm joining in the fun with a few other ag bloggers and answering a question about agriculture.  We were told it could be anything you have ever been asked relating to farming and it can be as simple or as complex as possible.  Well, I feel like there is no such thing as a silly question, especially when it comes to the big world of ag.  There is so much to know and understand and the best way to have your questions answered is to talk to someone who does it for a living.  The question that I have chosen to answer, I wasn't asked personally.  I read it in a magazine a while back and I can't recall exactly which one.  The person was heading to Myrtle Beach with their family for vacation.  During their drive, they noticed several fields of "dying" corn and soybeans.  Their question was, "Why do farmers spend so much time, money and energy planting the crops only to leave them out in the field to die?"

I guess I never really gave it much thought, but to some people it does appear that we are abandoning them.  Crops in the field are different from the plants in your garden.  Only about 1% of the corn crop in Indiana is sweet corn.  The rest is field corn.  Sweet corn is harvested when the plant is still green.  Field corn has to spend quite a bit of time drying down before it can be harvested.  Instead of the sweet, milky goodness of sweet corn you enjoy in the summer, field corn is very hard when it is harvested.  

When we begin harvesting corn, we test the moisture.  This is measured in percentages.  When the corn is hauled into the elevator if the moisture is above 15.5% then we are docked in the price.  Which basically means, we will get less for our, say, 18% corn that someone with 15.5% corn.  So, the corn can either dry down in the field, weather permitting or it can be harvested and stored in bins with a fan or it can be ran through a grain dryer. (I wish I had a picture of the dryer, but I don't)

The same thing goes for beans except the moisture can't go above 13%.  We do not run beans through a dryer like we do corn, so if we need it to, it goes in a grain bin with a fan.

So, while I guess the plants are dead, or appear to be...we will harvest them;)


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving Hand Print Craft...

I was driving in our small town  few weeks ago and saw a flag outside a house that had a hand print turkey on it.  Remember my foot print ghosts from Halloween, well this is pretty much the same concept except we used our hands to make the turkeys.  When you were younger, how many turkeys did you make by tracing your hand?
The first step is to paint your kids' hands.  I let them pick the colors for the feathers.
Press them onto the canvas making sure not to move the hand.  Once that dries, then you can add the feet, eyes, and beak and the red thing that I can never remember the name of:)...

 Finally we added the words, "Give thanks."
And just like that a simple wall hanging to treasure forever!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pumpkin Sheet Cake...

The holidays are quickly approaching and with that comes family get-togethers and pitch-ins. Are you like me and can usually think of anything to fix on any given day, but once you are invited to a potluck, your mind draws a huge blank?  I don't know if I am intimidated by cooking for other people outside of our little family, or what but I have the hardest time thinking of things to make!  Well, look no more.  This cake is easy to make and while the long list of ingredients might scare you a bit, they are probably all things you have in your cabinet.  I made this a few weeks ago and I'm fairly certain I took step-by-step photos, but I can't find them anywhere on my computer.  So, all you get is the final deal, which is usually all you get as time doesn't always allow for step-by-step photos anymore!

 P.S. If you are a member of my family, you can probably expect to see this at our upcoming Thanksgiving feast.  Just sayin' :)
Pumpkin Sheet Cake

  • 15 oz can pumpkin
  • 2 Cups sugar
  • 1 Cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 Cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 Cups powdered sugar
  • 3-4 Tablespoons milk
Cooking Directions
  1. Beat together the pumpkin, sugar, and oil.
  2. Add eggs and mix well.
  3. Combine dry ingredients and gradually add to the pumpkin mixture, beating until well blended.
  4. Pour into a greased jelly roll pan (10x15 inches)
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  6. Let cool completely.
  7. Beat butter and cream cheese together until smooth.
  8. Add vanilla and blend.
  9. Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix well.
  10. Add the milk a little at a time until you reach the desired consistency. (the icing should be thick, but spreadable. Start with two tablespoons and you can always add more.)
  11. Spread icing evenly over cake.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Indian Corn Wreath...

This year we decided to plant Indian corn in our garden.  It was corn left over from last year's decorating that I had hanging in the garage, so Brad planted it thinking that we would only have a few ears.  Well, it was a bumper crop!  I think you can have a bumper crop of Indian corn?.  Anyway,  I decided to make a wreath out of all the "mini" ears to use to decorate the front door.
All you need is: 
1 18 inch straw wreath (remove plastic wrap)
hot glue gun and a ton of glue sticks (I probably used about 7)
Indian corn. (It took 44 mini ears to go all the way around my wreath)
 All you have to do is generously put hot glue on the ear of corn and attach to the wreath.  Hold it there for about 30 seconds or until it feels like it won't slide off.  Continue until the entire wreath is covered.

I like how it turned out.  It won't keep year after year.  That's the only downfall.  If I store it in the attic, I'm sure the mice will discover it and have a feast!  So, I'll just have to make another one next year!


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Eating on the Go and Out of the Back of the Car...

 Harvest time (and planting time too) means that our dinner table is moved to the field, sort of.  There isn't really a table.  If I have room I will toss a couple of chairs in the Suburban.  Fancy, I know!  I could pack everyone sandwiches in the morning.  Trust me, it would be a lot easier, but one of the main reasons I take lunch to the field is so the girls can see Brad...and Grandma and Grandpa too.  During our busy season, this could be the only time they get to see their dad as he is usually awake and out the door before they wake in the morning and they are asleep before he gets home at night.  Meals are delivered to the field because a lot of time can be wasted by driving home to eat as not all of our fields are close by.  We are at the mercy of the weather, so time is precious.

In the fall (and spring) the back of my car looks like this...

And after harvest, my car needs to be detailed!  I'm pretty sure there are currently hot dog pieces and who knows what else in between and under the seats!
I've learned that an economy size box of assorted chips is a good thing to have on hand in case I need a quick side to finish out a meal.  On the day I snapped this photo, I had pork barbecue in the crockpot and if you ask me, nothing goes better with a barbecue sandwich than chips!  The crockpot is my best friend when I take meals to the field.  I love the simplicity of throwing the food in the night before and it be ready at lunchtime.  It makes packing up a breeze!

The older two girls are in school, so they don't get to have lunch in the field except for weekends (most of the time I don't take supper to the fields.  The guys...and girl;)...would rather work through supper and eat when they get home even though it could be late.  Sometimes supper time is the prime time to harvest.)  B and Mel look forward to the weekend when they can eat in the field.  To them it's like a picnic.  On weekdays, this cutie is my copilot... 
A little throwback picture from last harvest.  The food is served out of the back of the car...
And this is my favorite dish to take to the field.  It's called Hungry Jack Casserole and you can find the recipe by clicking the picture...
Another throwback picture to one year old Jo...
Of course, they don't always get a warm meal or a meal from the crockpot.  Some days ham and turkey sandwiches will have to work.  Of course, everything is made to order;)...
If I have to deliver meals on Sunday, most of the time I will get carry-outs from a local restaurant.  I like to consider Sundays as my day off in the kitchen, although it doesn't always work out that way! Here we are feasting on A&W..one of our favorites.
And sometimes you just have to ring the King!  Harvest also leaves us feeling a little exhausted!


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Rainy Night...

As much as we would like the weather to remain nice so we can wrap this harvest season up, it's still nice to have a "break" every once in a while because of rain (and not because of break downs).  Rain began late yesterday afternoon and continued into late evening so Brad was in for supper and that was definitely a nice change of pace.  It's been a while since we actually sat at a table.  I was worried Jo had forgotten how to eat at the table, but she surprised me.  I think she was just as glad to have Brad home as we all were.  Most days during planting and harvest, Brad leaves the house at around 6:30 in the morning and returns home late at night...some nights it's been 12:00.

While we all missed him, I think the middle missed him the most.  These two definitely share a special bond...
 Most nights during bed time, she would start crying because Brad is always the one to put her to bed and read her a story while I put Jo to bed (B is self-sufficient and can read her own bedtime story ;).

Mel purchased a locket at a holiday craft expo over the weekend and she has been begging me to take a picture of her and Brad.  So, last night was the night, but she was already in her PJs when I decided to snap the photo, so she had a meltdown and I told her to put her other shirt back on.  I assured her that the picture would be a close-up so no one would see her My Little Pony shorts;)  Now, the locket holds two photos...like most lockets do.  And she wants both pictures to be of her and Brad.  I don't know how I feel about that!;)

 B had to be in a photo also..
 Or two..
 And Jo was being ornery and decided to pull all the Diego Little Swimmers out of her closet and insisted she wear one, so I did what every good mom would do and put it on her....on the outside of her pants.  You know, for double protection:)

We are back in the fields today, even though it's a little soggy, but they are eager to find out if the combine is fixed.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Harvest Time...

Harvest has been in full swing here for a little over a month and while I would like to tell you that it has been smooth sailing, I can't.  Some years  we get lucky and have zero or minimal breakdowns and others, it feels like we are repairing something every time we turn around.
 This fall has been one of the frustrating years.  It started off really well.  We had a couple break downs here and there, but nothing that couldn't be fixed quickly.  Last Sunday the combine decided that it was going to throw a fit.  Now, I understand if it decides to throw a fit every once in a while, because don't we all?;)  But we are now on day 8 of Mr. Combine's fit throwing and we are all over it!
 The mechanic, who happens to be Brad's cousin, is completely stumped and frustrated as well.  He has tried everything he can think of which includes ordering different parts, Brad rewiring the wiring harness, several trial runs, and countless hours of labor.  We rented a combine from our local dealership to finish beans because they are a bit more temperamental than corn and if the weather turns, then harvesting soybeans gets ugly.
 It's not cheap to rent a combine, but you do what you have to.  We did manage to finish soybeans last week with said rented combine.  We are currently renting a combine from another farmer who is finished with harvest.
 All of these pictures were taken on a gorgeous day when the guys were combining the soybeans next to our house.
 Even though we have had a pretty major hiccup this fall, there are still things to be thankful for: the yields this year are good.  We didn't experience a drought this summer and we haven't had any personal injuries.  Trying to focus on the positives instead of the negative;)

Fingers crossed my next harvest post says that our combine is fixed!  Stay safe everyone and keep an eye out for farmers on the roads!

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