Sunday, May 3, 2015

For the love of the farm

I've shared what my favorite part of being a farmer is, but often I'm asked what is the kids' favorite part about growing up on a farm.  Their answers often vary, depending on the day and what's on the docket for the day.  I know living on a farm is not always easy, but then there are days like today that let me know for sure they truly love it.

Big Sissy had a track meet today and I know she is exhausted after competing in 3 events:  high jump, 400, and the 200.  (She had personal bests and set new school records in the high jump and 400.)  Yet after getting home from the track meet, she headed to our monthly 4-H meeting and is now out in the barn cleaning the pens of the 4-H pigs.  If that isn't love, I don't know what is.

Big Sissy clearing 4' 5"

Bubby is always wanting to help on the farm and today he received a big promotion.  We aren't quite ready to just turn him lose, but Bubby got to do this

Bubby's solo driving debut

for the first time ever today by himself.  He is still on cloud 9 and is probably going to have a tough time falling asleep tonight.

And then there is Little Sissy who was sad I made her come inside to get ready for bed.  She wants to be right there helping Big Sissy or riding in the tractor with Daddy.  As a half-day kindergarten student that spends her afternoons on the farm, I often think she knows more about what is going on than the rest of us as she listens to every one's conversations.

Seeing their love of the land and animals is an amazing feeling for this mom.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Do farmers go on Spring Break?

Vacation.  It is something we probably all don't do enough of for various reasons:  time, money, and effort may be at the top of the list for many of us.  Farmers are possibly more guilty of this than others so it is no surprise that  I'm often asked if Farmers get to go on vacation?

Yes, we do, but it possibly takes more planning than other professions to accomplish.  In fact The Farmer and I just got back from taking the kids to Walt Disney World for their Spring Break last week.  It was an amazing time, but it took a lot of planning and coordination for The Farmer to be gone.  Thankfully we farm with his parents so vacations are possible as long as we don't vacation at the same time as his parents as one of us always needs to be around to take care of the pigs.  As I've said before the pigs are always our top priority.

In addition to coordinating and planning with The Farmer's parents, it has to be the right time of year to go on a vacation.  In general, the spring and fall are out.  This is partially why I was not ecstatic when our kids moved to a balanced school calendar and now have a 2 week fall and spring break.  In fact when our kids first started school, I didn't think we would ever go away on Spring Break.  We've gotten a little leeway on this since our Spring Break was the last week of March and not in April.  It was nice to be able to get away as a family after the winter we have had this year, but I know The Farmer thought about the farm every day... it is in his blood.

So yes, farmers do get to go on Spring Break, but it isn't always a given, can be very weather dependent, and takes lots of coordination and planning.  And it may come during the winter or summer.

Did you have a Spring Break?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Top 3 reasons why we raise our pigs in barns

I've talked about it before but is one of those questions I get asked a lot as a pig farmer. So here are the top 3 reasons why we raise our pigs in barns.

1.  Climate control
By raising our pigs in barns, we are able to control their climate and most importantly the temperature of the barn. This is critical during the winter especially ones like we've had this year and last year in Indiana.  On Friday, our kids were on a 2 hour delay due to the temperatures and wind chills.  Thankfully our pigs were living it up in their 70 degree barns.  This 70 degree temperature is also important during the summer months when we approach 3 digit temperatures in Indiana.

2.  Protection from the elements
By raising our pigs in barns, we are able to protect them from the elements such as rain, sleet, ice, snow, and hail.  Just since Sunday, we've had about 7 inches of snow followed by some rain today.  Our pigs didn't have to get wet or cold once thanks to our barns.

3.  Protection from predators
Pigs are a prey species and are often preyed upon by coyotes which seem to be more and more prevalent in our area.  By raising our pigs in barns, we are able to keep them away from the predators.

Every day, every decision we make on our farm is about providing the best care possible to our pigs.  Our pigs are our top priority.  We truly feel blessed to be able to raise our pigs in barns as our families used to raise pigs outdoors and it wasn't always fun... especially this time of year.  My Papa passed away almost 25 years ago.  There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of how excited he would be to see us raising pigs in climate controlled barns.


Monday, February 2, 2015

Best Part of being a Farmer

I'm quite often asked "What is the best part of being a farmer?"  For me, this is a very easy question to answer.  You see to me it is all about my kids getting to see and work with their parents and grandparents each and every day.  Now I don't mean to imply that every day is easy, but with family by your side, it is always better.

This past weekend our family held an open house for our newly built pig barn for our neighbors and local officials.  I was so proud to see my kids so excited to talk about our family farm with all that attended.  Big Sissy even did the official welcome and introductions.  I may have had to nudge her to do it, but she wrote her own remarks.

Over the weekend, Little Sissy had a homework assignment where she had to write about who and how she could help someone.  The first thing that came to her mind was helping her dad on the farm. As a farmer, it really doesn't get much better than that.

And with the Super Bowl last night, Bubby reminded us that he didn't know if his NFL career would work with farming and that he might have to pass on the NFL.  We assured him that if the NFL called, we would be glad to manage the farm for him.

To me, there is nothing better that having our kids be so involved with the farm.  Their love of the farm is genuine and one that will hopefully continue to be passed down for generations to come.

This is the best part of being a farmer.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Is Pork a part of your New Year's Resolutions?

As a pig farmer, we eat a lot of pork around our house and I'm often asked many questions regarding pork.  One question I seem to get a lot is about the nutritional content of pork.  "Pork.  The Other White Meat." really did a lot to get people thinking about pork in their diets.

Although pork really isn't a white meat, a recent analysis by the United States Department of Agriculture found that pork tenderloin contains the same amount of fat and slightly less calories than the same serving of skinless chicken breast.

Thanks to Pork.  Be Inspired for the graphic

That to me is exciting news because pork can be an integral part of the New Year's resolutions that so many of us made.  And as a pig farmer having people eat pork is what it is all about.  So be sure to check out the pork section the next time you are at the grocery store and see how you can incorporate some yummy, nutritious pork into your meal plans.

P.S.  Pork tenderloin is the innermost part of the pork loin and pork chops come from the pork loin.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Dear Heather


Well last week's Farmer Fridays didn't happen quite as planned with the passing of my Gramma, but we survived the events of last week and as I said then, I find much comfort in the fact that she is no longer suffering.

That being said, almost every day I get asked some sort of question about our farm, our crops, our pigs, etc...  Many of those questions I have answered over the years with past Farmer Fridays so I thought I'd get them organized all in one spot for you as part of this "Dear Heather" post.  I hope this answers some of your questions, but if you still have some, I'd love for you to contact me or leave a comment and I will answer them in future Farmer Fridays.

So here's some of the past "Dear Heather" questions I've been asked and answered:

Thursday, November 27, 2014

My Gramma

This Thanksgiving is going to be a little different than in years past.  Earlier this week my Gramma was called home after a long battle with Alzheimer's.  On Saturday, we will say our final good byes for now, but I find much peace and comfort in knowing that she is no longer suffering and in remembering and sharing the life lessons and loves she taught and gave me.

My Gramma taught my mom to sew and bake and together they taught me.  Although the Alzheimer's prevented my Gramma from teaching the next generation, together my mom and I with the help of an amazing mother-in-law are teaching my kids to do both.

My Gramma introduced me to soap operas, the CBS soaps to be exact, as we would watch them together on sick and snow days when my parents had to go to work.  As she got older she was more protective of what she let my siblings watch, but I have fond memories of watching them with her and using many of the names for my dolls and such.

My Gramma also used to make me eggnog from scratch.  I can't seem to find a recipe just like hers and of course it was in head not written down so I don't make it from scratch myself, but I always buy a half gallon as soon as it is available in the grocery stores each year.  My kids don't seem to have the same love for it, but I can't drink a glass of it without thinking of her.

My Gramma could play the piano by ear.  Till this day, I can still hear her playing The Battle Hymn of the Republic like the best of them without a piece of music in front of her.  I can only wish that she had passed this talent down to me.

My Gramma was a competitive and fierce card player.  She had her poker club and I can still remember her playing Euchre with everyone at my high school graduation party.

My Gramma was very devout in her faith and thankfully passed this down to the generation after her.
My Gramma was an amazing lady that loved the Lord and her family more than anything else.  She was so talented and I can only hope that I can share a small part of what she taught me and my siblings with my children and future generations.

Until we meet again, Gramma.  I love you!

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