Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food!

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food - PA News (1)

I am SO excited!!!  My small town has this amazing Farmers Market throughout the summer.  It is full of local vendors as well as vendors that come all the way up from Detroit and they offer an awesome variety of food, crafts and art.

This coming Saturday we are hosting an event called Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Event.

We will have a booth set up for people to stop at and submit questions that they would like to ask directly to a farmer.  Then at 11 am we will have a panel of 3 farmers take the stage and get those questions answered.

This idea came about because I was at a farm conference this winter where we had a panel of consumers and we submitted questions to them to learn what they know about food, what they think about farming, and what they want to know about where their food comes from.

It is shocking for someone connected to agriculture to sit and listen to these normal people who work, have families, and buy food to see that they have NO IDEA what we do, how we do it, and in one case really thought that we might be trying to poison them.

But, what I really learned is that they have questions!
They want to know where their food comes from. They want a face and a name to go with their Frosted Flakes and Baked Beans.

The average American is now at least three generations removed from the farm. In fact, farm and ranch families make up less than 2 percent of the U.S. population. The United States today has more bus drivers than it has farmers!

So here is our chance!

Come to the Farmer’s Market on this Saturday morning August 19th!

Ask questions, meet a few farmers that grow your food, learn HOW we do it, and WHY we do things a certain way on each of our farms!

We would LOVE to have you and we would love to meet you!!!!

 

P.S. You are always MORE than welcome to ask me questions here!

 

Wheat Harvest

Drone

Wheat Harvest from above

It has been an exhausting week here at the Little House! I should have gotten on a post up earlier but I have to be honest with you, I was just plain tired.

IMG_5242Wheat harvest is always hot and this year it seems like its been one of the dirtiest too! Farmer has had more changes of clothes this week than in a while!  He said it seemed like all the extra greasy jobs happened this week.

When the rain came this weekend and cut us off from finishing the last wheat field we grabbed the kids and went to a festival before church.  Yesterday we picked all the produce from the garden, went up town and played a game Putt Putt golf and then I came home and took a 2 hour nap.

This morning the kids got their goat walking in and a trip to the library. Then we went to town to run errands and meet my dad.  He took Luke home with him after work to spend a few days getting spoiled and helping my parents get some projects finished around the house.  As I said on Facebook earlier this week, our family is really blessed to have such wonderful grandparents that can pick up the slack when we are in our busy time.  My mother in-law has been picking kids up from daycare, feeding them supper and getting them to bed for about 5 days straight. She is a Godsend and a wonderful example of a FarmHer.

We are still waiting for our last wheat field to dry out a bit before we finish up our season but in the meantime that garden I mentioned earlier has been in over drive!  So far I have frozen 21 cups of peas, 4 packages of radishes, and 14 cups of green beans.  I am currently waiting on my beets to finish boiling and also have about 15 pickles cut up and ready to go.

Gardening is not my first love, as a matter of fact it is kind of an farm garden(Everyone on the farm shares all the produce) and unless I walk over to it I sometimes forget that it is there and needs tending.  This year the weeds got a head of me and it’s not really pretty, but it is also still producing plenty to eat!
We currently have a few more peas, lots of pickles, some beets, and the tomatoes and sweet corn are about to start ripening!

What is your favorite treat from the garden? What do you do with it?

PS: When we are super busy in the field I still manage to get some funny updates on Facebook so follow me HERE too!

Motivation Monday!

 

 

With an extended 4th of July last week and all of our extra visitors it has been a long weekend of catching up both on the farm and in our personal lives.

I fielded a lot of questions from friends and family over the holiday about what’s going on with my weight loss. People wanted to know what I’ve been doing, how much weight I’ve lost, and if I feel better.

** I’m doing GREAT!
** I have lost approximately 110 pounds.
** With my gastric sleeve surgery I basically have to eat a very high protein and low carb diet.  It’s not too bad to follow but I love me sweets and need to make sure I focus on protein and veggies before any treats get on my plate.  By then I’m usually too full to indulge more than a small bite. My tummy will not tolerate bread well (I think it swells up in there and makes me uncomfortable) and I can’t do anything carbonated (bye bye my beloved Crown & Coke)

** As far as exercise goes, I walk about 10 miles a week and do Pilates twice a week.
I do have more energy but don’t realize that I move a bit easier unless someone points it out. Farmer notices the most because he sees me working and climbing in and out of equipment.
How much more weight do I have to lose? Only time will tell. My body will probably find its comfortable weight in about 30-50 more pounds if I can get there…

I’ve been lacking a bit in the motivation department lately and so I’ve signed up for a few 5K walks to keep myself on task. I did a Glow Run a few weeks ago and beat my previous time by about 4 minutes!  This coming Thursday I’m doing a Wine Run (If you survive they reward you with a glass of wine) and hoping to beat that time too!

Farming and weight loss are very similar in the fact that you really have to be self-motivated and able to stay on task without a “boss” telling you when and where to do things. When we need to get things done on the farm no one is here saying “You should go fix the sprayer.” or “If you don’t get out and get the beans cultivated instead of going to the parade you are going to lose yield”

I have always been very proud and in awe of my farmer’s work ethic. I know this weekend that he would have rather sat around the bonfire telling stories with his sisters and family but he sucked it up and finished the last of our dry bean cultivating. *Which was a good thing because it rained and field work is on hold for a while again.

It’s the same reason I try to get up and go for a walk or go to Pilates class.  There is just no way to get healthy without making the commitment to myself and making it happen.

What do you do to keep yourself motivated?

 

 

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

rain

Photo Courtesy of: codecanyon.net

If you are NOT a farmer you may have noticed that some of your outdoor plans have been cancelled due to rain…
If you ARE a farmer you may have noticed that some of your outdoor plans have been cancelled due to rain…

While we have been fortunate in our small part of the world, the majority of the areas around us have been hit very hard with LOTS of rain.  Anywhere from 5-10 inches in the last few weeks!  We know… you would think that rain would be good for crops. But, this much rain has been too much.

Dry beans are really a big worry right now. They just cannot take excessive rain. There are already talks of considerable losses in the dry bean industry. Some farmers have had to face replanting while others, with standing water, are concerned about the nitrogen that was lost in corn.

So we are praying that we get some good heat and sun to dry out the fields enough farmers can get back in to manage crops.  On our farm right now we are attempting to find dry bean ground that is dry enough to let us cultivate.  We use a row crop cultivator for weed control and for “hilling” up dirt around our beans; which makes it easier for our type of harvest.

In other Little House News we have been keeping busy cutting up some wood for our summer camping, doing some rainy summer camping, and playing with our goats.  Yesterday we also poured some cement for a bin project we are going to be working on later this summer.  I think our Faith is going to be a great Farm Mom someday, check her out raking dirt and carrying her baby  in the backpack carrier!

Summer Has Finally Begun!

Today is officially the first day of summer break for our family and to celebrate in style we initiated our kids (and a neighbor kid) into a farm kid tradition that is as old as time…

Picking rocks!!

Well, this isn’t the first time our kids have picked rocks but as a parent I have to say that I think this is the first time we’ve managed to pick a whole field without any meltdowns and actually get some work done! Even if the girls managed to put more “pretty rocks” in the cab of the backhoe than they actually picked…  Picking rocks is character building and a great workout for your arms and legs.

Growing up I lived in the country, but after 2nd grade I no longer lived on a working farm.  That didn’t stop my parents from teaching us all about hard work though!  Splitting wood all summer long, working with our 4-H animals and having to stack wood in the basement for an hour when friends came over before we could play.  Then there was baling hay and picking rocks with the neighbors.

The best part was always building forts in the hay mow and getting to climb up the bale elevator to the loft. The not so fun part was always how HOT it was and taking a shower after baling hay was a painful experience if you forgot to wear the right clothes.

My good friend growing up was so upset about picking rocks she always swore up and down that if she ever married a farmer he would be required to own a rock picker! **She didn’t end up marrying a farmer**

So to celebrate getting our work done today the kids are getting to relax and watch a movie this afternoon, Farmer is out spraying corn for weeds, I’m about to tackle the mountain of laundry and tonight we are taking the kids 4-H goats to get tagged for the fair.

** Stay tuned for that rodeo!

What are some plans you have for your family this summer?

 

 

You Know It’s Planting Season When…

 

I ran across a picture I posted on my personal Facebook page a few years back and I’m sharing it with you today.

IMG_4884

We were in the midst of a very busy planting season and some how a ketchup bottle fell out of the fridge and I was so tired and busy it took me 3 days to actually get back around to cleaning it up.

It’s been a crazy planting season here but we were blessed with decent weather and our corn, soybeans and dry beans are all planted.

Here are my reflections on How You Know It’s Planting Season:

** The weather app is your new best friend or worst enemy
** Clouds induce paranoia
** Changes in weather forecast can make your farmer come unglued
** That extra Twinkie in your lunchbox can brighten your day
** The kids want to know when dad is coming back
** Everything breaks. Everything.
** The parts department at the implement dealer is on speed dial
** You measure your day in acres not hours
** If you manage to wash and dry the laundry you are too tired to put it away so you sleep under it
** Seed from the current crop are rolling all over the laundry room floor
** Tempers are short
– Like when we decided to take make a quick stop with the kids to get ice cream but on the way there the field we were waiting to get dry was ready.  There was a long line and Farmer almost came unglued.

 

God Bless the grandmas who pick up the kids, the wives who deliver hot food to the fields and hold the fort down, and the farmers and farmHers that sacrifice time with their families to feed yours.💕

 

I Lost 100 Pounds!

Seed Bags

100 Pounds of Seed

Do you see those 2 bags of seed?  They each weigh 50lbs.  We were finishing up our last field of corn Friday night and Farmer needed 2 more bags of seed so I ran back to the farm and loaded them in my car.  As I was struggling to lift one of the bags and carry it over to the planter it hit me. Right there in those bags was the 100lbs of weight I had lost and I could barely carry half of it, let alone both bags at once!

IMG_4710

It was a bit of a shock and also a revelation.  It has been a lot of work and commitment getting to this point and not every day has been a positive one.  But today we celebrate the positives!

** I have lost 100lbs!
** I can walk 3+ miles without stopping
**I can walk faster~ 3 minutes less per mile than when I started
** I climbed up the tractor steps this planting season with ease
** I have more energy

I have a long way to go on the journey but today I’m stopping and appreciating how far I’ve come.

What is your positive for the day?

 

IMG_4736

We are planting!

IMG_4595

We finally made it into the fields and have been working on putting our corn in the ground!! Spring planting can get a little hectic because there is the working ground (my favorite job!), picking stones, putting nitrogen down and then the actually planting. We love it though!

This year we are pulling a rolling basket behind our field cultivator to help with lumps in the soil and will hopefully make a better seed bed for our plants. Pulling onto the road can be a bit intimidating for me because it makes my equipment about 80 feet long and you need to make wide turns into the driveways to avoid putting it in the ditch…

IMG_4631

 

As I was traveling down the road last week, about 1/8th of a mile from one field to another, a pick-up truck came up behind me and as I swung wide to make a right turn into the driveway he passed me on the right!  I was pretty mad because it was VERY dangerous and also illegal.

So in the spirit of keeping my family and yours safe on the road here are a few tips when driving around farm equipment!

 

 

 

Tips for Rural Drivers

  • Always be on the lookout for farm machinery. Remember it can unexpectedly turn onto public roads from a field or driveway.
  • Farm machinery typically travels at 25 mph or less, so be prepared to slow down in order to avoid a rear-end collision.
  • Keep a safe distance. This gives better visibility to both drivers and equipment operators.
  • Allow adequate time and distance for farm equipment to make wide turns.
  • Just because you see the equipment does not mean the equipment operator sees you.

Tips for Passing Farm Machinery

  • Be sure the machinery is not turning left. Look for left turn lights or hand signals. If the machinery slows down and pulls toward the right side of the road, the operator may be preparing to make a wide left turn. Likewise, sometimes to make a wide right turn, the operator must fade to the left.
  • Determine whether the road is wide enough for both your vehicle and the farm equipment.
  • Check for roadside obstacles such as mailboxes, bridges or road signs that may cause the machinery to move to the center of the road.
  • Be sure there is adequate distance for you to safely pass and be on the lookout for oncoming traffic.

IMG_4476

Tips taken from: http://www.kinze.com/post.aspx?id=330

Spring planting is just around the corner!

IMG_4564

One of the wheat fields we sprayed today.

Around here you don’t need a calendar to tell you when it’s starting to get close to planting season.

First equipment starts getting shuffled around and those last-minute maintenance projects get finished up. Equipment gets hooked up to its corresponding tractor, then the weather app gets a workout speculating when a weather event will occur. Is it going to rain? How much will we get? What’s the temperature?

Then the field scouting starts or in my world “date night!” Driving by fields on the way home from town, hopping out with a shovel to check the moisture. Is it getting dry enough we won’t cause compaction? Calling customers for seed deliveries and coordinating drop offs start. Will they have enough? Will they change their order?

IMG_4566

Grace & Faith getting the gator ready for spring!

Lastly the excitement mixed with anxiety starts. It’s almost time! If we get a few more days of sun we could start! If planting in the corn belt is delayed will it cause a price increase?

It’s a promise of new adventure, growth, income and most of all God’s beauty. If its dry and we get in the fields early things can be fairly calm. This year things are not all that calm. A combination of low crop prices and unfavorable weather has increased anxiety in this house for a time. With low temperatures and lots of rain it has been a waiting game to see when it will be dry enough to get in the fields here. The north wind off the lake and more low temps are currently not helping the drying conditions though.

IMG_4565However, today we are able to spray our wheat for weeds and fungus! We grow Soft White Winter Wheat. We plant it in the fall and will harvest it in mid-July. Soft white wheat is ideal for baked goods that are not kneaded- like cookies, pancakes, pie crusts and crackers. Soft wheat has a very low gluten content, which, when used in baked goods that are not kneaded, results in a tender finished product. A lot of our wheat will end up in Jiffy pancakes, Kellogg’s cereal, and Goldfish crackers!

 

So the next time you are flipping some pancakes think of us!

pancakes joyofbaking

Photo credit-Thejoyofbaking.com

Happy Birthday Luke & Faith

Very few moments in life will change you like the birth of a child.

The birth of these 2 was no different!

hb

Luke Frank was born May 2, 2009. I was sitting in the chair 30 weeks pregnant watching Spiderman 3 when my water broke. 3 hours later Luke was born via emergency C-section.  Because he was so little and our local hospital didn’t have a NICU, he was transported via helicopter to the NICU 2 hours away.  I was put out under general anesthesia so they brought him by my recovery bed and I touched his little hand in the box on his way to the helicopter.

Luke1

First time holding Luke at 8 days old.

We were separated for a few days and I met him 36 hours later. He spent 5 days on a ventilator, 3 weeks on a CPAP and 1 week using a nasal cannula.  5 weeks after birth we brought him home! There were a few early challenges but we have been SO blessed that he is a bright, happy, and healthy child.

Having a baby is a busy time in every family’s life.  Having a NICU baby during planting season here on the farm was a blur!

Faith Frances was born May 3, 2012. Our last but not least! Her birth forever changed me and the course of our family.  (Backstory Grace-birth number 2 was a natural regular birth)

I had been in labor on an off for 10 days. Even my doctor couldn’t believe I was still pregnant!

Faith 081

Faith Frances 1 day old.

Finally my water broke at 6:30 in the morning and we were on our way to the hospital. My body was having a hard time remembering how to do the whole giving birth thing and just as things were getting exciting we had another emergency on our hands.  My uterus ruptured and Faith and I were both in danger of not making it out of this process alive.  For the 2nd time in my life I was being run down the hallway of the hospital for another emergency C-section.

By the grace of God my doctor was just outside my room door when it happened and the amazing staff took swift action.  I woke up to a healthy baby girl who had no lasting effects.  I was advised that having more children was not an option for us and after much prayer, a second opinion and a lot of tears we agreed that giving birth to more children was a dangerous idea. It was a tough decision for a woman that has always wanted a big family but it was the right one for us.

We brought Faith home to a house with 3 children under the age of 3 with the farm half done planting corn.  It was a wild time in our lives. Wait, who am I kidding?  It still is!