Saturday, July 31, 2010

Farmer Fridays - The Year of Pigs

Well I have failed again...  I didn't get my Farmer Fridays post done yesterday.  Believe it or not, it wasn't from lack of effort, but The Farmer and I are actually on a mini, mini vacation to celebrate our 10 year anniversary and our Internet connection at the hotel was a little less than desirable last night.  Any way, it is working much better this morning so I thought I go ahead an post this week's Farmer Fridays.

The 2010 Indiana State Fair starts this coming Friday, August 6th.  I have always loved the State Fair.  I have great memories of showing my pigs and sheep there as a 4-Her and can only wait for when my children will be able to show at the State Fair.  In fact, even though we didn't know each other then, The Farmer and I both showed pigs at the State Fair at the same time. 

This year's State Fair is even more exciting to me than most as the theme for the 2010 Indiana State Fair is The Year of Pigs presented by Indiana Pork Farmers.  As one of those Indiana pork farmers, who could be more excited about The Year of Pigs than me. 

In honor of The Year of Pigs, I thought I would share some interesting pork facts with you courtesy of Indiana Pork. 

  • Indiana has over 3,000 pork farmers around the state
  • 94% of Indiana's pork farms are family owned and operated
  • Indiana is the fifth largest producer of pork in the United States
  • Indiana's pork industry employs more than 13,000 people

  • Indiana's pork industry spends more than $600 million in local rural communities

  • Indiana's pork industry contributes more than $3 billion annually to Indiana’s economy

  • Indiana's pork industry is the leading consumer of Indiana grain—more than $300 million worth

  • Indiana marketed 8 million pigs last year

  • Indiana's pork farmers deliver the annual pork needs of every man, woman, and child in Indiana… plus 15 million more people in the U.S., plus 5 million more people around the world!
So if you happen to be in the Indianapolis area August 6th - 22nd, don't forget to check out the Indiana State Fair, The Year of Pigs, and the Garbage Burger

P.S.  In the coming days, I will be having my first give-a-way which will have something to do with the Indiana State Fair so stay tuned.

P.P.S.  Don't forget to check out the video my Goode friend and her family made for the special Year of Pigs YouTube contest


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Faith, Hope, and Love are required at this pig pen

This past weekend, I traveled to Fort Worth, Texas to spend the weekend with 4 of my college sorority sisters (Tequila, Tutti Fruity, Miller, and The Captain) and great friends till this day.  (If you remember, I have decided to give all of my non-blogging friends the names of beverages that make me think of them for some reason.  I will leave the reasoning for this set of names to your imagination.)  

Tutti Fruity, Miller, The Captain, Me, and Tequila - July 2010
We graduated from college 11 years ago and have tried to get together every year since graduation in some way.  Some years it has been a Purdue University football game and other years it has been a trip to Florida.  This year we decided to travel to Texas to visit The Captain as she became a first time mother to twin boys earlier this year and this would give us all the chance to meet the boys.  

Although our lives have changed over the past 11 years, the one thing that remains constant is that we are are still there for each other and always will be.  

Later this week, Thursday to be exact, my husband, The Farmer, and I will celebrate our 10 year anniversary.  At times it seems way longer than 10 years and at other times it seems like just yesterday that I made the best decision of my life in marrying The Farmer.  It has been quite a journey over the last ten years and I can only wait to see what the future holds.  

The Farmer and Me in Seattle - January 2010
Both of these events were all put into perspective for me this weekend as we suddenly lost an amazing friend, mother, wife, and woman in our community.  Earlier in the week our friend was celebrating her 49th birthday and now we are preparing to celebrate her life. 

We don't know what God has planned for any of us, but more than ever, the events of the past few days have reminded me to not take anything for granted and to always take the time to tell the ones we love that we love them as we don't know what tomorrow or our next moment holds.

Big Sissy, Bubby, and Little Sissy - April 2009
Ultimately it all comes back to having faith, hope, and love and thanks to this, on a happier note, my good friend Meggie, The Hoosier Farm Babe, will welcome her baby girl into the world any day now. 

Faith, hope, love, but the greatest of these is love.  
1 Corinthians 13:13


Friday, July 23, 2010

Farmer Fridays - This Farmers on Vacation

As you know, I love being a farmer and being a part of our family farm; however, occasionally it is nice to get away.

This week has been a crazy one for me.  On Monday, I flew to New York City for meetings for work and returned Wednesday night.  Although this was a work meeting, it also had some fun involved as my mother-in-law and Big Sissy went with me.  They had a blast seeing the city while I was in my meetings, but we did sneak in a little bit of together time including a trip to American Girl and seeing Mamma Mia on Broadway.

(The only mishap in the entire trip was that somehow my memory card with all of our family pictures from Christmas forward got deleted so we had a brief breakdown, but that was it and we have all made it home in one piece so it will be OK.  At least I keep telling myself that and at least I have pictures from American Girl on my phone.)

When I returned home from New York City, I unpacked and repacked my bags and loaded up all 3 kids to take to my sister's house 3 hours away as I headed to Fort Worth, Texas on Thursday morning for a weekend with my college sorority sisters and some of the greatest friends a girl could ask for.

So although it has been a crazy week, it's ending with a mini vacation for this farmer and because of that I don't have a new Farmer Fridays for you this week, but tune in next week to see what's happening on the farm besides my husband, The Farmer, and mine's 10 year wedding anniversary. 

Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Homemade Buttercream Frosting for the pig cupcakes from the pig pen

In case you don't know, we love to bake at this pig pen; even though, we don't often have time to do so.  When we make cakes and cupcakes, we also like to make  homemade butter cream icing.  In fact, I can't even remember the last time I bought frosting in the can at the grocery store.

Now this being said, just because we like to make frosting doesn't mean we are good cake decorators or good at frosting cakes.  I am horrible at frosting cakes; however, Big Sissy has been bitten by the cake decorating bug.  My mother-in-law is actually pretty good at decorating cakes as she has taken a few classes and has a fair amount of the necessary tools and she has introduced Big Sissy to cake decorating.  In fact, they worked together on Big Sissy's birthday cake this year.

This being said, it is still my nemesis.

As you know, 4-H had a big impact on my life and 4-H actually has a cake decorating project; however, I never took that project.  I stuck to sewing and foods and showing livestock to name a few.  Now Big Sissy is not old enough to be in regular 4-H yet as in our state you have to be in third grade; however, she is old enough for mini 4-H as you can start that in kindergarten.  Lucky for me our mini 4-H program has a cake decorating project and Big Sissy signed up for it for the second year in a row.

She really enjoys this project, but I have already warned her that she will not be able to take cake decorating in real 4-H.  And believe it or not, this decision is not based on my lack of cake decorating skills, but the fact that cake decorating is judged the same days as foods and gardening and she has already expressed an interest in those projects so I think we will have too much on our plates for that day.  Thus, no cake decorating in real 4-H for Big Sissy.

For those of you wondering, Mini 4-H is like Daisy Scouts for those of you familiar with Girl Scouts ...  not quite a Brownie or Girl Scout, but in training to become one.  Mini 4-H allows the child to take a few projects, attend special mini 4-H meetings, and exhibit their projects at the fair.

So this year, she had to exhibit 3 frosted cupcakes with a design or pattern made from candy.  We had seen pictures of pig cupcakes in a magazine awhile back and decided that is what she would do for her mini 4-H project.  Of course, we didn't rip the picture out of the magazine so we were going to be stuck creating her cupcakes from memory until Liz saved the day.

As if she knew I needed it, Liz posted a picture of a baby shower where she made farm animal themed cupcakes.  The picture was great as I could show it to Big Sissy and thanks to email, Liz even shared some great tips like using pink marshmallows instead of white and cutting off a part of the marshmallow to make the ears.  Thanks for all of  your help Liz and to Kraft for making pink marshmallows. 

So one blue ribbon later, Big Sissy is by far a better cake decorator than me so I will stick to the baking.

 (Chocolate chips were used for the eyes and were also used to help make the indentations in the pig's nose.)

For those of you that are interested, here is the recipe for the butter cream frosting:

3 3/4 cup of powdered sugar
1/2 cup of butter (1 stick)
4 T. milk
1 t. vanilla (I always use pure vanilla extract for baking.)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix on low until combined and then beat at a medium speed.

One recipe should be enough to frost a 2-layer cake, 9x13 sheet cake or 24 cupcakes. 

All Thingz Related

Blessed with Grace


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Produced in the USA is important to this pig pen

We had one of my most favorite meals for dinner tonight.  It is one that is only good in the summer when the bulk of the ingredients are at their peak.  

We had BLTs, sweet corn, cucumbers with ranch dressing, and sliced peaches.

The beauty of this meal is that the bacon, cucumbers, and sweet corn were all homegrown.  The tomatoes and peaches were from our state.  And although, the bread and lettuce were not produced in our state, they were products of the USA.


You might not think this is a big deal, but as a farmer, it feels like each and every day someone is questioning how we raise our crops and livestock. If we don't put our trust in the American farmer and let them make decisions based on science vs. emotion, we may not be able to find food produced in the United States someday.

Just some food for thought, literally.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Farmer Fridays - Corn, corn, and more corn

My house is surrounded by corn and even more corn.

It actually makes a very nice natural privacy fence.

Anyway, what you may not know is what type of corn it is that is grown in the fields around my house and on our family farm.

There are several types of corn.  There are 5 main types of corn that are used in food production:  dent, sweet, pop, flint, and flour.  Check out Versagrain for a basic, yet good explanation of these 5 types of corn. 

On our family farm we grow dent corn, which we call field corn, and  sweet corn.

Each year, we grow about 700 acres of yellow field corn.  100% of the corn we grow is used to feed our pigs throughout the year.
We also grow a small amount of sweet corn on our family farm for us to enjoy in the summer months as nothing says summer quite like sweet corn.  Because we love our sweet corn, my husband and father-in-law plant our sweet corn on the edge of one of our field corn fields with our field corn planter.

This really makes planting the sweet corn relatively easy, but every once in awhile there will be a renegade field corn seed in the planter which will result in a field corn stalk in the middle of the sweet corn field. 

And although we don't grow any, we consume a fair amount of popcorn at this pig pen.  

Thanks for tuning into this week's Farmer Fridays


Sunday, July 11, 2010

The first sweet corn of the season at the pig pen

In my opinion nothing says summer like fresh sweet corn straight from the field or garden.  Besides the fact that it tastes so good, it brings back some great memories of growing sweet corn with my Papa.

Yesterday for lunch, we had our first batch of sweet corn from our own field.  You see, we don't plant sweet corn in a garden at this pig pen.  My husband and father-in-law plant it on the end of one of our regular corn fields so we normally have a fair amount of sweet corn which is perfect for eating and freezing if the raccoons don't get too it first.

Any way, we were quite excited when my husband showed up for lunch yesterday with several ears of corn.

At this pig pen, we prepare our sweet corn by letting it boil in boiling water for 7 minutes.

We then add butter and salt to each ear as we eat it and it's absolutely perfect.  By the way, sweet corn is one of the few foods I actually add salt to but it makes all the difference.

(Yes, we use spray butter for our sweet corn.  We bake with butter but have used spray butter for everything else since my father-in-law had his heart attack almost 6 years ago.)

We were so excited to have sweet corn that it was about all we ate for lunch yesterday.  We did have a sliced tomato and we pan fried a homegrown zucchini, but that was it.  I think we may have got our vegetable fill for the week.  :-)

Tune in to this Friday's Farmer Fridays post to learn about the difference between our sweet corn and normal field corn.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Farmer Fridays - Knee High by the Fourth of July


I grew up hearing the saying "Knee High by the Fourth of July" in regards to the height of the corn by July 4th.  I don't know where the saying originated but it based on the goal of corn being knee high by the 4th of July.  (Apparently other's grew up with this saying too as Gal in the Middle talked about Knee High by the Fourth of July last week in honor of the 4th of July.)

As you know from our first Stages of Corn Growth post in my Farmer Fridays series, our corn was as tall as Little Sissy about a month ago and not quite knee high.  Well you will not believe how tall it is today.  It was definitely taller than Knee High by the Fourth of July. 

The corn has changed a lot in the last month.  The corn is now essentially done growing in height, but it has a lot of work to do before we can harvest a corn crop in the fall.  This corn field (that surrounds my house)started to tassel about a 2 weeks ago. 


At the same time, the stalk started to produce 1-2 ears of corn per stalk.  The tassel provides the pollen to fertilize the ear to allow it to develop the corn kernels.  The pollination process lasts approximately 2 weeks and then the corn needs about 60 more days depending on the weather to reach maturity.  Once the ear is mature, it is ready to harvest and that is when we head back to the fields in the combine. 


As a farmer we are always at the mercy of Mother Nature and receiving the right amount of moisture is just as critical now as it was in the beginning of the corn seed's life.  Time will tell how it goes.


Monday, July 5, 2010

4th of July flip flops from the pig pen

Well as you know, our 3 kids and I loaded up on Thursday night and headed to my mom's for the 4th of July weekend.  Before we left for the weekend, Big Sissy and I decided that we should take a craft for her and 3 of my nieces to work on over the weekend.  When we saw last week's sale ad at Hobby Lobby and saw that their flip flops were 50% off, we knew what we were going to make.

4 pairs of flip flops and one yard of fabric (a half yard of each kind), we were ready to create 4th of July flip flops for the girls.  (We decided Little Sissy was too little to have a pair as she would never keep them on her feet. )  We also needed a pair of pinking shears to make sure the fabric would not fray.

Basically I just cut approximately 1 inch strips of fabric with the pinking shears being sure to pink both ends with the shears as well.  After cutting the strips, I cut the strip in half so that each original strip made two 6-8 inch strips approximately.

Then the girls with the help from their moms (my sisters) and their Grammie (my mom), who also helped me cut fabric, double knotted the fabric on the flip flop strap.  This step was repeated until the entire strap was covered.  

 My nieces went with an every other approach with the 2 materials and Big Sissy decided to do each side of the flip flop in a different color.

This was a very fun activity for all even if the mom's had to do a lot of the work for my nieces as one is 4 1/2 and the other two are 2 1/2.

It was also rather inexpensive especially since the flip flops were half off.  I got each pair of flip flops for less than an $1 and the bill for both kinds of fabric was less than $8.  So for less than $10, we had 4 pairs of custom flip flops for the 4th of July.

The Girl Creative

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