What do farm kids do all summer?

I grew up on a small dairy farm in the era when we still had to physically walk beans to cut weeds. While I loved summer break because that meant county fair, it also meant work. And today I find myself in conversations with friends and parents of my children’s friends about what the kids will be doing over the summer. Then it hit me one day when I was texting with a group of friends who are also all farming, how different our lives are from the majority but yet how my kids will look back with a grateful spirit for being raised working hard and playing hard. So, here my friends is a glimpse into our farm kids’ summer.

Planted Sweet Corn and Watched It Grow

Planted Sweet Corn and Watched It Grow

Played with the Pigs

Played with the Pigs

Summer swim meet

Summer swim meet

Wrote a Pen Pal and Mailed the Letter

Wrote a Pen Pal and Mailed the Letter

Biking During the Columbus Triathlon

Biking During the Columbus Triathlon

Placing in the top 3 of the Columbus Youth Triathlon

Placing in the top 3 of the Columbus Youth Triathlon

Another Swim Meet

Another Swim Meet

Did I Mention Sister LOVES Swim Meets?

Did I Mention Sister LOVES Swim Meets?

Watching Corn Grow

Watching Corn Grow

Walking 4-H Pigs

Walking 4-H Pigs

Finding Wild Bunnies In the Yard

Finding Wild Bunnies In the Yard

 

4-H Project Work

4-H Project Work

The Girl and Her Dairy Calf

The Girl and Her Dairy Calf

 

Showing Dairy in His White Clothes

Showing Dairy in His White Clothes

Showing His York Barrow Pig

Showing His York Barrow Pig

Excitement After Winning

Excitement After Winning

 

Fun In The Greased Pig Contest

Fun In The Greased Pig Contest

And that gets us till mid-July. So, what do they do? Head to more fairs…

Off to Illinois to Watch Cousins Show

Off to Illinois to Watch Cousins Show

She Loves the Fair

She Loves the Fair

No, Really She Does

No, Really She Does

Country Walks Near Our House

Country Walks Near Our House

And then my boy had a big weekend…

 

Another Swim Meet... The STATE Meet

Another Swim Meet… The STATE Meet

The Brickyard NASCAR series

The Brickyard NASCAR series

What are your kids doing this summer?

Is Food From Small Farmers Better? Why #FarmSizeDoesntMatter

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone, someone you really respect and value their opinions, but you can’t for the life of you figure out why they believe something that could not be any farther from the truth? As a mother I have experienced this with vaccinating your kids to drinking raw milk to breast feeding. We all have our beliefs and views and have done our research. And boy do we like to push our beliefs on others and even shame others who don’t agree with our train of thought. As a mother, I want to make the best possible decision for my family. I don’t want a decision I make to impact my kid’s ability to grow, learn and develop.

Kids sitting on a tractor

Which is why I think sometimes food becomes such an emotional choice for moms like me. Every single day we are putting food in our kids mouths. Every morsel can ultimately impact their growth, their health, their wellness. I get it. However, I think the fear of not doing the best for our kids has spurred a movement of scaring people from eating certain types of food that are hard to imagine.

But here is the thing when it comes to food, it all starts on a farm. Big farms. Small farms. Local farms. Foreign farms. The culture of being a farmer has evolved just like being a teacher has evolved. There are farmers who still raise heirloom tomatoes just like there are places kids learn in one room schools with multiple grades all together. In the same way there are farmers who raise hybrid tomatoes and just like there are schools that now never meet in a formal classroom but learn through online platforms. Does one situation mean it is superior to the other? I would argue that these types of farming and educational formats are what works and fits for that community and people working on those farms and in those schools.

stand for farmers

This year on our farm we aren’t just growing our regular corn and soybeans on the less than 250 acres we are farming, we are also growing pigs, a dairy calf and chickens and sweet corn. And let me be honest, the latter part of our operation is a losing operation. Losing money, that is. We hope to make some money from the sweet corn but that is if we sell the 25,000 ears of corn that come from the 25,000 seeds we are planting on one acre.

Beyer Beware's small farm #FarmSizeDoesntMatter That’s the thing with farm size, they didn’t grow larger because anyone forced it to happen. For generations farming has evolved and changed. My hens pecking around in the grass outside of my red barn is romantic. But let me tell you what isn’t romantic. Picking up 12 of the 32 chickens that have been killed in the middle of the night. Because that is a reality. Putting the chickens outside is almost more for our psyche than theirs. We literally have to to push them out the door to get them to go out. And a crazy fox or weasel and they are all goners. Hard to make money off of dead chickens. Hence why most egg laying chickens are raised in safe, secure buildings. Farmers have to have birds to pay the light bill.

We have older equipment. The equipment we are using to plant our sweet corn is 10 years older than I am. Yet, we have some the best genetics and technology packed into the seed. Equipment is expensive today. You have to have a lot of land to spread the fixed cost of equipment over. Seed however is a variable cost. We can buy more expensive seed that will require less chemicals and be more hardy to deliver a crop to us. Thus we use older equipment and newer seed technology.

old equipment new seed technology #FarmSizeDoesntMatterSo, does that mean our sweet corn is from “Big Ag” even though it is being grown on our one acre field? Or does that mean it should be better because it is from people who picked by hand by someone in our family. My point is this, regardless, of size or method of production, all farmers go home to families. These families may have incorporated their farms and the IRS may look at them as corporations, but first and foremost they are families. Buying food in your box store or at your local farmers market shouldn’t matter. The farmers grew the whole foods that went into your food. While we can debate on processing, additives and what not, that has nothing to do with farm size. Continue to ask questions and push all of us to explore the best options for all people not just your community. And when you are trying to decide what type of farm you want your food to come from, remember #FarmSizeDoesntMatter.

 

The Secret to Quick Meals on Busy Nights

You know when you have a way to save time in the kitchen, but don’t yell it from the the mountaintops because you think your friends already know it? Well, that happened to me recently. A few of us were sitting around when one of my friends said “Thank goodness someone told me about Leah’s secret of making browned meat from frozen meat in seven minutes in the microwave.” Which was no big deal until another friend said, “Yeah, and I am also glad she told me how to cook pasta in the microwave.”

Blank stares from those who most not know about my secrets. My secret weapon more specifically.

It’s a simple little thing.

microwaving ground meatOn the nights when you have to literally throw dinner together in 15 minutes because you have soccer or ballet or chores or cross country or corn to harvest or just no energy. You need a secret weapon.

how to microwave pastaYou can microwave ground meat that is froze solid in two increments of three and a half minutes that result in browned meat.

how to microwave meatViola. Add seasoning for tacos or taco salad. Pour into spaghetti sauce for a quick spaghetti meal.

But you are still wondering on how to microwave pasta aren’t you? There is a small are to the pasta. I normally do a cup and a half of water and pasta into the large micro cooker. For most pasta I just double the cook time. So, if it takes 5-6 minutes to boil to al dente, I cook on high in the microwave for 11 minutes.

microwaved cooked pastaMost times the pasta will absorb all the water, but if not go ahead and dump the extra water out before adding the cheese, milk and butter for mac and cheese. I mean, after all what else do you make with pasta?

microwave mac and cheeseMicrowave for second intervals until the pasta and cheese is smooth.

microwaved mac and cheeseAdd bacon for that completely irresistible meal in no time flat!

Microwave mac and cheese

What are your secret tips or recipes for the nights you are on the go?

I am participating in Indiana’s Family of Farmers Table Talk Series and received a gift in exchange for my participation.

Table Talk Contributor for Indiana Family of Farmers

Microwave Mac and Cheese

Microwave Mac and Cheese

A one dish mac and cheese dish that can be made in 15 minutes in the microwave.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups uncooked pasta
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 4-8 ounces of velveeta, cubed or shredded
  • salt and pepper
  • Crumbled bacon

Instructions

  1. Place pasta and water in micro cooker and cook for 4-5 minutes longer than the box stated boil time on high. Check pasta and cook longer if not cooked to al dente. Add more water if necessary.
  2. Drain any excess water. Add butter, milk and cheese and microwave in 30 second increments till cheese is melted.
  3. Add salt and pepper to your taste. Serve with crumbled bacon on top.
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For Leontien…

On the day she would have turned 34, her family laid her to rest.       The van de Laar FamilyIt still doesn’t seem real. It doesn’t seem right to see her family without Leontien too.

Leontien in 2010And all the showering of love was evident throughout the room in the forms of flowers, pictures, cards, blankets and other gifts as we, those crazy American gals in Indiana, gave our condolences to Baastian and Maria and Wim and Jan Willem and Meagan and Henneke.

Farm gals with the Pioneer WomanAnd we were so confusing for her sometimes. Can you believe we drug her to IKEA? Leontien just couldn’t understand why were so excited to go to this store. But for her, IKEA was like going to WalMart. Well, maybe not WalMart, but you get my point.

Dragging a Dutch girl to IKEABut, I think she might have found comfort in just being with other women who were her age. It was good to leave the girls with the boys every now and then after all.

Wim and Leontien with the girlsAnd today, to honor her. To celebrate with her. To share a little piece of her. We shared random acts of kindness.

For me, it was buying a random polar pop at the gas station for the person behind me.

For me, it was giving some time to a brand new ag teacher who is just trying to find her way through the muddiness of getting what you need from your school board to do your job.

For me, it was making cookies with my little girl who has been begging to make them for days.

For me, it was giving the tip of getting a good accountant, lawyer and financial investor to a young farmer as he dropped by crop insurance papers for signatures.

For me, it was knowing that she will ever be a part of my heart. My outlook on life is forever changed because of her spirit, passion, and generosity.

Leontien and Me

See you on the other side, Sweetie!

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.” John 14:1 – 4

To read about Leontien’s life, visit her blog, Four Leaf Clover Tales.

He’s Hot in His Carhartt

Carhartt sent a jacket over for the husband to try out. I think he was a little more than excited to have his very own coat thanks to his wife’s blogging habit.

And then a heat wave hit in March. But, he is still loving his new coat. The mornings have been cool when he takes off for a days work.


He liked this coat because it hung a little longer than most Carhartt coats and also came with a hood.

The wind can howl through the fly over states, so you can’t go wrong with a hood or a little extra length when you are out doing chores.

This coat was also great because it came in multiple different colors and not just the standard Carhartt brown. The color he picked is actually called firewood.

So far no complaints about the coat and not even complaining about not needing it lately with the warm weather we are all loving!

Does your man love Carhartt

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too? Be sure to head on over to the Real Farmwives Blog and learn about a chance to win the coat of your choice!

Carhartt gave the husband the coat to review. They were also kind enough to give a few other farmers coats via their Real Farmwives to checkout. Opinions are all ours though.

Blondies & Buckeye Bars

My contribution to the holiday cooking has been baking desserts. I found two doozies right next to each other in the Gooseberry Patch Big Book of Home Cooking Cookbook.

I love this cookbook. I love these bars. Let’s talk about the Best Blondies first.

You start by creaming together two sticks of melted butter and two cups of brown sugar.

Then you add two eggs and two teaspoons of vanilla.

Mix until it is good and creamy.

Then you add two cups of flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

Then you add the goodies. The original recipe called for white chocolate chips. My husband of course “thinks” he doesn’t like white chocolate. So, I added one cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips and one cup of chopped pecans along with 3/4 cup of toffee, with chocolate coating no less.

Once it is all stirred together, pour into a parchment lined 13 x 9 pan. And bake for 30-40 minutes on 375 degrees.

Now, some folks might say these bars were sweet. I think they were perfect.

The other bars I made had me at Buckeye. I don’t know what it is about Christmas that makes me think of the splendid balls of peanut butter, but they go hand in hand for me.

This recipe was super easy. Thanks to the use of a boxed brownie mix:) I love the chocolate fudge brownies personally. Just make sure the mix is for a 13 x 9 pan. Make as directed on the back of the box and let cool.

When the brownies are cooled you will then add the layer of peanut butter. It is so easy to make it should be taxed or banned or illegal. It is simply two cups of powdered sugar, one cup of peanut butter and one stick of butter that is softened.

Mix together and then spread out over the cooled brownies. Pop the bars in the fridge for an hour to set up for the chocolate topping.

Now the recipe called for a chocolate and butter topping. However, I had some heavy whipping cream that needed to be used up. So, I thought some chocolate ganache would do the trick.

I started by pouring 1/2 cup of cream in the bottom of a small pan and heating till it just began to boil. I killed the heat and then added one cup of dark chocolate. I used the remaining semi-sweet chips from the blondies and a few bars of dark baking chocolate. I say you want about a 1 to 2 ratio of cream to chocolate when making ganache. Let the chocolate just sit in the cream for about 10 minutes and get good and soft.

I then let the ganache sit for another 5-10 minutes before spreading over top of the peanut butter layer. Divine.

Heaven sent. I swear to you, if these aren’t in heaven I will be disappointed.

Affiliate links were used in this post.

Lady in Red, A Red Carhartt

Fall is here. It didn’t feel much like fall in Indiana this past week, but at least it still smells like it! The perk to live surrounded by corn.

When Carhartt sent me this quarter zip hooded sweatshirt, I fell in love.  Thankful Carhartt has come out with a women’s line that is, dare I say, cute farm chick gear. It is so much more stylish than the brown coveralls that all of us farm kids grew up wearing on cold days. I even have had them on my little farm kids. I almost cried when I found this picture of my little Princess in her first pair of Carhartt coveralls.


To showoff my new red sweatshirt, I asked my Boo to take a few pictures of me when I wore it. When I was out checking out how our soybeans were fairing, he thought he would take a few pictures.

And the soybeans are looking semi-promising. Wishing they were about 4 inches taller!

In case you missed it a few weeks ago, Boo learned to ride his bike without training wheels. So can you guess what I am spending a lot of time doing? Yep, riding bikes. The sw

I am still trying to keep my outdoor flowers alive. A quick watering on a cool day isn’t so rushed to get back inside thanks to my Carhartt. Can you tell he caught me by surprise?

And in hopes that we will have fall-like weather, we have some pumpkins from a local farmer’s market, Bush’s Market, we have some pumpkins out on display.

And sometimes, Momma just wants a break. All that is missing is the toasty fire and the big glass of wine.

This fall is going to be a great one. Count on seeing me in my new Carhartt. It is my new favorite fall fashion statement!

If you are loving my sweatshirt, head on over to the Real Farmwives of America blog to sign up to win your own fall-ready sweatshirt.

Carhartt did provide me with this product to review but the thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

Farming Leads to Dirty Jobs

Living on a farm can lead you to being licked,
 playing in the dirt,
 having to give animals showers,

 and even having a little entertainment of watching the neighbor plant while you swim.
 But, at the end of the day, now matter how dirty you are, someone will love you enough to check your head for ticks. And frankly, I think this might be the dirtiest job on the farm. And boy are the ticks bad this year.

Pretty sure I am going to be in trouble for posting this last picture…

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