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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Mother Nature Is Sending a Message, REALLY!

A few days ago it was nice enough to open up the windows in the sun room and breathe some fresh air.  My folks were over, and as we were chatting, we heard a different honking sound up in the sky. Dad and I scooted outside to see what we could see, and way up in the sky we finally saw them. Sandhill Cranes~!




Listen to their very distinct sound!


From the Indiana DNR page:  Dec. 16, 2014: Our crane count this morning was 9,175. Cranes also continue to use the Wheatfield area. This will be our last posted count for the 2014 fall/winter migration. Very likely, some cranes will stay throughout the winter, especially in the Wheatfield area. North bound cranes will begin arriving in late January, peak in late February or early March, and will be gone from JP by April 1.

Wheatfield is in Jasper County, a county just north of us, and we do keep an eye out for them in the spring.  Several flocks do stop at our very own Benton County for a bit of a rest before heading the rest of the way north.  

Even though our weather is stick quite fickle, spring IS on its way, just ask the sandhill cranes!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Thighs

Want a super simple meal idea that everyone will like?  I.Mean.Super.Simple....  No toothpicks required, melt in your mouth goodness that pulls two meats together?  All you need is a package of boneless chicken thighs and bacon, and you have a juicy, flavor-packed main course: bacon-wrapped chicken thighs.

Bacon-wrapped chicken thighs: super simple and incredibly delicious.



Last week was National Ag Week, but with Tall Guy laid low with Influenza B and me getting smacked with a major sinus infection, we had a hard time finding our appetite.....until I put these two awesome meats together.

Now you know we love to put bacon around anything!  Because we raise beef, we love us some bacon-wrapped filets.  Because this is just a good and a bit easier on the budget, bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin is also at the top of our YUM! list.  I hated to leave our poultry friends out of the loop, so here is my salute to chicken.

Bacon-wrapped chicken thighs

This is so simple to make.  You need chicken thighs and what I like to call "skinny" bacon.  Skinny bacon is stretchy and gives the chicken flavor without a heavy piece of bacon to chew threw.  Save that thick, more expensive bacon for Saturday and Sunday morning breakfasts!  Grab a thigh, fold the meat together so that the smooth side of the thigh is on the outside.  Take a piece of bacon, stretch it a bit, and start wrapping it around the thigh.  As I get close to the end, I make sure I have a place to tuck in the end piece.  This way you don't need to use a toothpick.  Put all the thighs in a baking dish, glass or stone, shake some ground pepper and seasoned salt on top if you like, and bake at 425 degrees for about 35-45 minutes. (Baking time depends on how big/thick the thighs are.)  Make sure all juices in the pan are clear.


Serve this up with some healthy vegetable, and you have a light, flavorful, healthy meal.  It was enough of a comfort food, that we found our appetite, and ate it all up!

Even though last week was National Ag Week, we celebrate Agriculture EVERY week here on the farm!

Friday, March 6, 2015

4-H: Do your kids participate?

Have you thought about encouraging your children to join 4-H?  Have you thought about volunteering to be a leader or project adviser for 4-H?  Every county in Indiana has a 4-H club, and there is so much to be learned and gained from participating in 4-H.


Last weekend we had our first Parrish Grover 4-H meeting.  The girls were excited, and Tink even took along her phone for the sole purpose of taking notes!

A true 4-H meeting is run by the club members.  It's a great way for these kids to learn organization, preparation, planning, responsibility, and the practice of Parliamentary Procedure rules.   As we talked about up-coming lessons and demonstrations for these meetings, I loved to hear the older members excited about working with the younger members on shared presentations ranging from electricity to photography to beef projects.

At the end of the meeting, Miss Carrie had an activity to share, the building of Ecobots.  Our county's Purdue Extension office has a variety of projects to share during meetings, and this one hit it off BIG with our kids.  This lesson revolved around the idea that a spill of some kind had endangered the ground, and it needed to be contained. What did the kids have to work with?  The head of a tooth brush (FYI: use FLAT bristled brushed instead of wavy ones!). a tiny simple motor, a small round battery, and some double sided foam tape.  Rice and straws used for the spill and containment area. The kids had to figure out how to hook up the battery to the motor and then to the flat of the toothbrush.


Did you notice in the picture above that one ecobot was made from two brush heads and scoots around on bristles while another scoots on its back?  It's all good.  As you can see, the kids had a blast, and some ended up thinking outside the box to make their ecobots more powerful by creating a double head and battery bot!





I have to tell you that our girls LOVED this lesson.  Miss Bear is still hooking up her little motor to any battery she can find.  Because of this inquisitiveness, she learned that the tiny round battery does not put out near the energy of a 9 volt.  It was pretty funny to see her face at that moment!

I do hope that you look in to participating in your local/county 4-H program.  Even though the online deadline for enrollment has passed here in Indiana, you can always fill out a paper enrollment form at your county Extension Office. Here is a link to Indiana's 4-H project list.  With the extensive number of projects your kids will be challenge and learn while having fun.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Questions for the Farmer: "Are you or Aren't You?"

Living in the country and or Small Town USA is the best.  I can drive around, shop, and stop for a chat every time I head in to our small town of Fowler.  I have to stop and wonder, though, if Tall Guy and I are the topic of conversation because half the time I venture out, I am not wearing my wedding rings.  TG rarely wears his.  We will be at one of the girls' sporting events, church, or just out for a drive, and one will realize that we are "dating," not married, because of the missing rings.


I'm sure there are some folks out there wondering why we are not wearing our wedding rings.  Let me reassure everyone that our marriage is good, all is well here on the farm, but the farm is the reason we often leave our rings in the house.  Probably the biggest injury to farmers is the loss of fingers, and the reason is that a ring can get caught on several pieces of farm equipment, nails, screws, hooks or while we are climbing up/down something.

My Grandpa Bill lost part of his ring finger. His wedding ring got caught while climbing around on a grain wagon. TG has had a close call or two as well.  While helping TG put a box of bailing wire (one box weighs about 100 pounds) from the store cart to the truck bed, I almost smashed my finger, and the ring I had on my finger didn't help matters; it made a nice cut on my finger where it was pushed into the skin.  It's also not so pleasant to take an old toothbrush to your rings to scrub out organic material.


Nope, they were not on my finger here either!  Whew!

So if you see me out and about without my rings, never fear!  They are at home, safely placed for when I am out working around our farm.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day from the Heart!

 https://www.pinterest.com/pin/114771490480141999/


Tall Guy and I decided to get a jump start on Valentine's Day by going out last night to one of our favorite "Date Night" restaurants, McGraw's Steak House!  It's a lovely restaurant, situated right along the Wabash River, and it's only tricky to find in the dark because it sits off South River Road as you go out of West Lafayette.  I'm still loving the memory of our steaks and alone time....sigh........

Today, however, is another day.  Tink went to a friend's house to watch the younger sibs so that friend's parents go venture out tonight.  Bear has a friend over here, and I thought it would be fun to make them a heart-shaped pizza.  Toppings used can be whatever is your heart's desire, but TG loves this crust recipe, so I thought it fitting I should share it with you tonight.

For the dough, you will need:

1 pkg. dry yeast
1 C. lukewarm water
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt
2 T oil ( I use olive oil)
2 1/2 to 3 C. flour

This recipe makes two medium pizzas.

In a bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water.  Add sugar, salt, and oil.  Mix well.  Gradually add flour to form a stiff dough.  Knead on floured surface until smooth.  Place dough in a bowl, cover the lid with a damp towel and let rise until doubled.

Divide dough in half and roll to 1/4 inch thickness.  Put in a pizza pan or stone, cover with your toppings, and bake at 400 for about 15 minutes or until crust is golden.



Happy Valentine's Day Everyone!



Monday, February 2, 2015

Beauty








"Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God’s handwriting — a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing. "

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Farmer Q and A: How Does a Farmer Get Ready for a BIG SNOW???

* Warning:  I just picked up my BIG camera after it spent about 5 weeks in the camera hospital, so this post is a bit picture heavy because, well, because I missed it so much!

I get the sense that some of America is under the misconception that a farmer's job is done after the last corn/bean/whatever you are growing comes in, and I so wish that was the case.   I'm here to tell you that it is NOT over, especially when the next latest greatest "BIG SNOW" is predicted.

So what do farmers do to prepare for a big snow?

First, if you have any snow removal equipment, it has to be ready to go, and that includes being in a position to get out of the barn/tool shed ready to work.

Bladed (back end) and bucketed tractor at the ready by the east door....We actually have a snow blower that can attach, but Tall Guy likes to move snow with a bucket and blade/scraper.


Semis in the back...


Combine by the south door ready to go the JD dealership for a going over when there is room.



Next, because we have livestock, we need to make sure their food is ready to be fed, and their waterers are all in working order.  This is kind of hard to 100% sure of until until we know the storm temperatures and amount of snow.


The blurry things in the picture below are birds.

Working waterer....


Under surveillance...heater might not be working.


Not being used at this time.


 One of our bigger 4-H calves



We had to throw down ten bales of straw for their bedding.  Uhm..., that "we" would be me!  I had some instructions from Angel as how to limb up to the hay/straw loft if I needed a refresher lesson!








Sadie and Angel making sure their waterer is also in working order.


Next, because we heat our home with a boiler system, we have to make sure we have wood chopped and two good stacks out by the boiler ready to go.




Finally, we need to make sure our "necessities of life" are in good supply.  Back in the day, my mom would run the tub full of water and fill up the kerosene lamps.  I still have those lamps even though we do have a generator that will help with electricity if the power does go out.  I also have a good supply of the BIG FOUR, toilet paper, milk, eggs, and bread, on hand in case we are socked in for longer than a few days.  Back when I was a teenager, I think the longest we were snowed in was two weeks during the late 70's BIG THREE blizzards.  Fun times, seriously!  We played a lot of euchre, put together several 1000 piece puzzles, and played outside whenever possible to shake off the cabin fever.

As you can see, farmers rarely get a day off, especially livestock farmers.  Grain farmers are usually out hauling grain to elevators and plotting next year's crops and strategies, and livestock farmers add care of the animals on top of that.  We all take safety precautions for our home and family because chances are even when the town folk can get out and about, we have about two more days before our roads are plowed out and and safe for traffic.  Stay safe and warm if you are in this storm's path.  I'm off to help Tall Guy split and stack more wood!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Geez! Where Did Those Last Two Weeks Go?

Well for Pete's sake!  I can't believe I haven't been on here for two weeks!  What have I been up to?

Here's a little photo montage of those last 14 days.

More awesome friend time with a fun trip to Indy


Talking about farming to this adorable bunch of kindergartners as I started my Junior Achievement lessons with them.


Sat in a meeting "with the guys" at our local John Deere store to learn the latest and greatest John Deere programs.


Sniff Sniff.... Went to Tink's last home game.  Time has gone much too quickly!




Trimmed our calves' heads, briskets and bellies so their hair will be beautiful come fair time.



Played a bit of H-O-R-S-E and P-I-G with the girls.


Watched some beautiful sunrises just outside my bedroom window,


Helped Tall Guy load trucks of corn to take down to Lafayette's Staley plants.


Sniff  Sniff....Watched our Bear play in her FIRST basketball home game.



Traveled to Indianapolis with some of our Benton County Farm Bureau Board members to chat with our State Representative Sharon Negele and Senator Rick Niemeyer at the Capitol.


So, I'm sure I will be telling you more about these stories in the next coming days and weeks, plus I will be keeping you better up to date with our latest projects, trips, and farm news. OH!  Maybe not the biggest news, but news that makes me smile is that my camera, the big one, is back from it's visit to the camera doctor.  Both body and lens are fixed, clean, and ready for action.  I swear it felt like I was missing an appendage without it by my side.  The phone does a pretty good job of taking pictures, but my camera is the best!

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