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.

 

Quick Spicy Beef Burritos

We can all pretend that we are always ready to whip up a meal for our starving kids. But, after being on the road or on a plane for a month straight, I would rather everyone just make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

When I came across the recipe for quick spicy beef burritos in my latest Gooseberry Patch Cookbook I am reviewing on the way home from a week on the beach, I knew even my kicking and screaming bad attitude towards cooking right now could handle it.

Quick Spicy Beef burritos on corn tortillasThe great thing about this recipe is Beyer pantry friendly ingredients.

Quick Spicy Beef Burritos Recipe

Don’t we all have refried beans, diced tomatoes and chilies and taco seasoning in bulk? Or just me?

Taco Meat add ins

Of course, I always have literally hundreds of pounds of meat just laying around in one of my two chest freezers. I get the frozen pound of ground beef going with a quarter cup of diced onions.

Browning beef for burritosOnce the beef is browned, drained of any excess grease, add those tomatoes, beans and seasoning.

Quick Spicy Beef Burrito FillingsStir to combine and let simmer for several minutes. And I dare you not to steal a bite.

Beef Burrito FillingYou will notice my spoon is missing from my awesome Fighting Illini spoon rest.

Quick Beef Burrito filling with Illini spoon restNow, stop sneaking bites and start assembling. For a healthier option, grab whole wheat tortillas. If you are gluten free, go for the corn. If you are me and you are going with what you have, you will use run of the mill flour tortillas for the family.

Quick beef burritos

Add shredded cheese and roll up tortillas and serve.

Quick Spicy Beef burritos on corn tortillasNotice, I have some corn tortillas in the mix. And if you like more filling in your burritos, go for it. Add some guacamole. It’s healthy!

Quick Spicy Beef BurritosLooking for healthier ideas for any night of the week? Come back tomorrow and register to win this Good-For-You Everyday Meals Cookbook from Gooseberry Patch. Or go buy it now!

Quick Spicy Beef Burritos

Yield: 5

Serving Size: 1 burrito

Quick Spicy Beef Burritos

Lovers of Tex-Mex food looking for a change of pace from regular tacos will fall in love with these quick spicy beef burritos.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1/4 c. diced onion
  • 1-1/4 ounce package of taco seasoning
  • 16 ounce can refried beans
  • 10 ounce can of diced tomatoes and green chilies
  • Flour or corn tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded cheese

Instructions

  1. In a skillet over medium heat, brown beef with onion.
  2. Drain off any excess grease and stir in the taco seasoning, beans and tomatoes and chilies. Simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Warm up flour tortillas or crisp up corn tortillas and fill with beef filling.
  4. Sprinkle with cheese and then roll up and serve immediately.
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This recipe is from a cookbook given to me by Gooseberry Patch. The recipe commentary and opinions are mine.

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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What Summer Is Like in Indiana

When school gets out don’t we all have all these grand plans. Well, when you are in the country of Indiana this is what ends up happening.

You get a puppy. Yes, he is a GoldenDoodle. His name is Moses. We call him Moe.

Our GoldenDoodle Puppy MosesBut then, you have to deal with a sad little Checkers. The puppy got a little bit more love than him.

Our Teddy Bear Dog, CheckersBut, soon he got over that little bought of jealousy. So, we went back to watching the corn grow…

Corn Irrigation

Like many of you, we spend a lot of time swimming. In lanes. While your parents melt in the stands with absolutely no beer sales at the said swimming meet.

Boo swimming the butterflyAnd all of this fun is then interrupted with the job. The thing that pays for tree houses that cost more than your first car.

New playset at the new houseHowever, who wouldn’t want to host foreign visitors on a two day tour prior to the World Pork Expo? I mean, seriously, it was awesome. Plus, I got to ride a barge on the mighty Mississippi River and see grain being loaded onto a barge.

Grain Barge on the Mississippi RiverAnd then it is back home to the quaintness of rural Indiana and lazy Saturdays.

Farm WindmillThe best thing about summer is the amazing nights you can spend outdoors with friends. On the 4th of July we had fun with friends and a sky that gave the fireworks competition.

Indiana July SunsetAnd just when you think your life can’t be any better, the corn starts pollinating. Did I mention I am surrounded by corn fields. Eyes have been watering for weeks thanks to all this corn sex…

Corn PollinationThen the letter comes. The letter with the class lists and school supplies. The list that means summer is over soon. The letter that makes you realize you have worked too much and played too little. The letter that makes you sad because you feel guilty for not spending enough time with your kids doing all these big fancy pants things that memories are made of. And then, your kids make you feel loved when you are up in your office having a little pitty party by yourself. My kids did it. They threw me a surprise tea/lemonade party.

surprise tea partyAnd I am going to just assume everyone’s kitchen table looks like mine. It will make me feel normal.

Summer Fashion Accessory Must-Haves

I think I have a love hate relationship with summer. I love the warm weather. I love flip flops. I love not having to wear a coat. I have gotten bold lately. Especially with colors. Curious people have been asking what my secrets are to buying cute clothes that are comfortable and not so “momish.” Here is an example from this week.Boden Summer Fashion

This outfit encompasses nearly all of my must-haves for me this morning. My favorite shirt. The wedges I am obsessed with right now. And a skirt from my favorite online store.

But I want focus on accessories. Because they are cheaper to add some flare to your summer wardrobe. So, let’s start with shoes.

toms wedgesSometimes I get lucky and I match. Not that being matchy, matchy is in-style, but these Toms sandals might be my favorite pair of shoes. The close second.

toms splatter wedges

Yep, they look like splattered paint. Also, Toms wedges. I have the same shoe in gray. Yes, I can wear them all day. Yes, they are comfortable. One caveat…your toes have to get used to them. I got some blisters where the top of my toes meats the materials. Other than that, bliss.

Moving on up the body…Scarves. I am plain in love with scarves. Probably because I can use them to hide where I spill coffee on myself. I have scarves from just about everywhere. My current favorite is this Calvin Klein – Ombre Colorblock Scarf.

Calvin Klein - Ombre Colorblock Scarf (Pale Lime/Aqua) - Accessories


Love this scarf. Every time I wear it I get a compliment. You can get it from Zappos.com or TJ Maxx like I did.

I also love statement necklaces. Let’s face it, I want to draw as much attention away from my problem areas. Scarves, necklaces, dangling earrings draw attention up instead of to my midsection!

chunky gold necklace

This is one of my latest. I buy way too much from Zulily. You get good quality for a discount. And it changes daily. But, my ultimate favorite place to by big statement necklaces…

beaded bib necklaceAnthrologie. I can’t help it. I just love the eclectic nature of the store. And my All-Time favorite necklace is from there. And they no longer sell it, so I am not even going to show it to you.

So, what are you summer must-have’s?

Hunk of Meat Monday: Philly Cubed Steak Sandwiches

Have you just been too over it at the end of the day that you just want something quick, comforting, and on the the table. After all, sometimes going out to eat just isn’t quick enough. Yeah, me too. Cubed Steaks are my new supper in a pinch meat of choice. These Philly Steak sandwiches are made in 20 minutes from frozen cubed steaks. No lie!

Philly Cubed Steak SandwichesA frozen package in the microwave on defrost for a few minutes gets them pried apart. Then slice the steaks in about 1/2 inch strips against the grain. In this is the first time I have used

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cubed steak terms, cut the opposite way the lines are already cut into the steaks. Then season them with your favorite steak seasoning. My favorite is Montreal Steak Seasoning.

cubed steak preparation [Read more...]

Hunk of Meat Monday: Bubble Pizza Casserole

Sometimes life if just last minute. Ok, more than sometimes in my case. Which is why this bubble pizza casserole that is quick to assemble and bakes in under 30 minutes will be a new staple around here.

Bubble Pizza CasseroleI use my Pampered Chef micro cooker when I need browned meat in a hurry. I start by putting my frozen pound of ground pork in the cooker for 3 minutes on high.


Remove it and begin to break away the softened and cooked pieces. At this point I throw in any veggies I want with my pizza toppings.

Microwaving ground pork and veggies for pizzaI put the meat in for another 3-4 minutes till the pork is completely cooked.

cooked pork sausage and veggies for pizzaWhile the meat was cooking, I opened a can of large refrigerator biscuits, the kind with 8 biscuits in a can. I proceeded to cut the biscuits in quarters.

refrigerator biscuits cut in quartersThen separate the biscuits and place them in a large bowl. Add any additional toppings you want on your pizza that doesn’t need precooking.

Bubble Pizza ToppingsAdd the cooked sausage to the biscuits and other toppings, stirring to combine. Then pour a 26 ounce jar of spaghetti sauce over top the toppings and biscuits.

Spaghetti Sauce for bubble pizzaMix the sauce in together with the all the toppings and biscuits and pour out into a 13 x 9 pan.

Bubble Pizza Casserole spread into pan
Cover the casserole with shredded cheese. Mozzarella, Italian blend, a little colby-jack. Whatever you have two cups of in the fridge.

Cheese topped Bubble Pizza CasseroleBake on 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until biscuits bubble up and are cooked and cheese melted. It really should resemble the top of a pizza.

Bubble Pizza CasseroleLet it rest a minute or two before serving, and then be ready for it to be devoured!

Bubble Pizza Casserole

Bubble Pizza Casserole

Bubble Pizza Casserole

This bubble pizza casserole is an easy weeknight meal that will fill your families up and not be as tedious as homemade pizza!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground pork or beef
  • 1/2 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup diced ham
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1 can large refrigerator biscuits
  • 1, 26 ounce jar of spaghetti sauce
  • 2 cups of shredded mozzarella, Italian blend or Colby-Jack cheese

Instructions

  1. Brown ground meat seasoned with salt and pepper, adding bell peppers to the meat when it is about halfway done cooking.
  2. Remove the biscuits from the can and cut into quarters. Place in a large mixing bowl and add ham, onions or other toppings on top of biscuits.
  3. Drain cooked ground meat of any grease and pour into mixing bowl with other ingredients.
  4. Pour spaghetti sauce over top and mix to combine . Pour mixture into a 13 x 9 pan. Try to make sure your biscuits are somewhat evenly spread out over the entire pan.
  5. Top with cheese and bake on 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
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What was cooking at your house this fine Hunk of Meat Monday??



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