Friday, December 31, 2010

Farmer Fridays - The Real Farmwives of America & Friends - Holidays on the Farm

Welcome to another The Real Farmwives of America & Friends Farmer Fridays feature.

In this quarterly edition, The Real Farmwives & Friends will share their stories of spending the holidays on the family farm.

On our family farm, our Christmas is just like yours in many ways I'm sure ... we decorate the house, we shop and wrap presents, and we bake among other things.

Big Sissy loves to make Puppy Chow/Muddy Buddies or as she calls it, Reindeer Chow, for Santa's reindeer.

This year, she also made my Great-Grandma's Peanut Butter Balls with and without coconut.
(The yummy recipe will follow in a future post.)

Little Sissy even joined in on the fun.  

Where our Christmas and essentially every holiday is different than yours is there is always work to be done even on the holidays on our family farm.  As pig farmers, our pigs need fed and watered twice a day among another things.  Our pigs don't understand when it is a holiday and we don't expect them to.  Taking care of our pigs is our top priority on our family farm so even on a day like Christmas they come first.

This year we celebrated Christmas with The Farmer's family on Christmas Eve starting at 11am.  Besides his normal pig chores, The Farmer had pigs to move to another barn on Christmas Eve Day so his day started very early and was very busy before our family celebration started.  Although I'm sure that isn't how your Christmas Eve started, we wouldn't trade it for anything because being a part of a family farm is one of the greatest things ever.

Besides if we didn't live on the family farm, we wouldn't be able to go sledding like this on Christmas Eve.

So from our family farm to your family, we hope you had a wonderful, blessed Christmas and wish you a Happy New Year!!

Big Sissy, Bubby, and Little Sissy on Christmas morning


Thursday, December 30, 2010

When life hands you lemons

I really try to think of myself as an optimistic, upbeat, glass half-full kind of person.  I remember once reading the quote, "Attitude is the reflection of the inner you."  I truly believe this and have always tried to make lemonade when life hands me lemons. 

Well professionally, life has been handing me a lot of lemons lately which results in a tad more lemonade than I would prefer.  (Don't worry, I still have a job, just a lot of changes and then more changes on top of that.) Any way, these "lemons" have made me more than ready to bring on 2011 as I hope they will quit heading my direction in the new year. 

Although the lemons have been plentiful professionally in the last few months, thankfully, I still have my faith, family, friends, and health which is truthfully all I need and for a bonus, my kitchen table is still clean. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - 3 Kids and a pig, literally

As if attempting to take a picture with three kids ages 8, 5, and 20 months wasn't hard enough, only a crazy mom like me would then add a live animal such as a pig to the picture and then repeat this process each year to have the perfect picture for one's Christmas card. 

Yes, folks, that crazy mom is me.  I don't know why I do it, but in the end we usually end up with a pretty good picture that took about 20 takes to get. 

Although, I won't be showing the actual picture that we selected, I thought I would share some of the "fun" we had taking these pictures.

Sometimes operator error is the problem, like cutting the pig's head out of the picture



Thursday, December 9, 2010



Accoring to Merriam-Webster, the definition of neglect is as follows:

1.  to give little attention or respect to : disregard

2. to leave undone or unattended to especially through carelessness

Well, I have neglected a lot lately starting with this blog.  It is been well over a week (ok, almost 2 weeks) since I last blogged and I have been anything but consistent this Fall with my posts. 

I have lots of posts written in my head, but finding the time to actually type them out has not happened.  I thank those of you that have continued to follow along and have faith in me.  It is because of you that I will try to keep going and get on a more regular schedule because when I'm not blogging I'm also not keeping up with my friends' blogs and that is not good either.  For example, I have yet to join in on my good friend Leah's Hunk of Meat Mondays linky party.  I mean what kind of friend am I ? 

Besides not following my friends' blogs, I haven't done a real good job of keeping in touch with a lot of my friends lately by any means of communication and I really hate that.  I would describe my status the last several months as treading water and I'm sure some of you can relate.  I think I might finally see the light at the end of the tunnel as things at work should be changing around the 1st of the year which should help... I hope.

And since I haven't done a good job of blogging lately, I didn't get to tell you about the amazing cake our cousin made for Thanksgiving.  Check this out...

Yes, every part of it is edible.  She is absolutely amazing and just yesterday got a call from Food Network. Be sure to check out her blog, A Couple of Sweet Things.

So now that I've spilled my guts on just a few of things I've been neglecting, I'm proud to say that there are a few things I haven't neglected.

Thankfully, I've been able to plan out a work schedule that has kept me close to home most nights and that is huge for this pig pen. 

We finally got the house decorated for Christmas after I had to battle our pre-lit tree.

When I first plugged it in, this is what it looked like.

Thankfully, after a few good shakes and one extra strands of lights I know have a tree that looks like this.

Unfortunately I took this picture during the day so you can't see all of the glowing lights. :-)

I've also been doing a pretty decent job on my Christmas shopping and am almost done thanks to my pre-Thanksgiving shopping,  Black Friday shopping, Macy's, Amazon, and my sister-in-law's Etsy shop.  Now I just have to get everything wrapped. 

And most importantly, my kitchen table is clean with nothing piled on it.

So even though I've been neglectful, this full-time, working farm momma knows, it can always be worse.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Yes, I'm one of the crazies

Yes, I'm one of the crazies that participates in Black Friday which is why there was no Farmer Friday yesterday.  It is a tradition that my mom and I started several years ago.  I really can't tell you why we did it the first time, but now we love it.  Well, I should say I enjoy it and my mom is a trooper, but I do think there is a part of her that enjoys it.

This year there seemed to be a lot of chatter on the news and amongst my friends and family as to why would people choose to deal with the chaos of Black Friday.  This really made me think about why I do it.

Besides the amazing deals that I have been able to take advantage of over the years, it truly is the only time of the year that I can go shopping and not feel guilty about leaving my kids to go shopping as they are asleep with The Farmer "watching" them.  (I say "watching" because let's face it... he is asleep too and truthfully unaware of the fact that I am gone.)  I also don't have to worry about the time because everyone else is at home, asleep, and not missing me.  Believe it or not, it is actually a peaceful time for me to shop.  It also is a great time for me to spend one-on-one time with my mom as my youngest sister does the Black Friday thing with her husband (and we usuallly run into each other and help each other out), my other sister avoids it, and Black Friday is not my brother's thing; although, he did participate this year which is a whole other story. 

So thanks to Walmart's split sale this year, my mom and I left the house at 11pm on Thanksgiving night so we could take advantage of the Midnight Door Busters at Walmart.  Although, I was extremely exhausted since I had been up since 5:30am, it was worth it as I got everything on my list and we were out of Walmart within 2 hours. We were ecstatic to be out of Walmart in a relatively short amount of time, but now we had to wait until 3am for the next sale to start.  We knew if we went home for a little nap, we would never wake up so we decided to head to Steak n' Shake for a little snack. (This proved to be a good decision as my youngest sister went the nap route and overslept.  She was headed back to the sales when my mom and I were headed home at 6am.) 

Yes, we finally got back home shortly after 6am after hitting Kohl's and Target and starting at Walmart at 12am.  Even though I was ready to crash, I woke The Farmer up at 7am so we could head to Tractor Supply Company as he wanted a welding helmet (that he had to see before he bought it) and I knew if I didn't keep going I would crash.

After a few cat naps during the day and some online shopping at, I finally crashed last night and was able to sleep until 7am which is really good for this mother of 3. 

Being a glutton for punishment, my other sister and I decided to hit the outlet mall at 8am for a few stops.  Although, we missed out on some special offers by not going on Black Friday, we were still able to take advantage of some great deals and there was absolutely no crowd at all which was worth a lot to us.   

All in all, it was a successful shopping weekend and a great time to bond with my mom and two sisters and even though I didn't actually get to see her, I spent a lot of time "talking" with Ice Tea thanks to our Blackberries as she is my true partner in crime when it comes to Black Friday shopping and life in general.  Despite the fact that we are miles apart, we help each other out throughout the day to make sure we both get what we need or should I say want. And that is priceless even if I was up for almost 40 hours straight. 


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Not the day this pig pen planned

Today was supposed to be about the last day of school before Thanksgiving Break for Big Sissy and Bubby,  Grandparents' Day at Big Sissy's school (which is sneakily during the Book Fair so Big Sissy has been planning all week what her Grandmas would buy her), getting ready for Thanksgiving, and Celebrating the 2010 Harvest

Things were going as planned until about 10:15 am when the school secretary called me to let me know that Big Sissy had collided with someone during morning recess and was sitting in the office with a fat lip and a bloody, potentially loose tooth.

I will admit the minute I heard the word TOOTH, I started to freak out a little bit as she has most of her permanent teeth already.  I told them that I would be at school in a little bit to see her knowing that she was going to be very mad at me if I made her miss Grandparents Day which ended at lunch. 

I immediately called the dentist who said they wanted to see her right away and would find a way to fit her in as fast as possible so that she could hopefully get back to school for Grandparents Day. 

When I picked her up at school, they had gauze in her mouth for the blood and an huge ice pack for her lip as it was severely bruised and swollen. 

So off to the dentist we went and they got us in almost right away. 

She chipped one of her bottom teeth so they will do a partial crown in about a month and two of her top teeth (thankfully not the front two) are in major pain and a little bit loose.  We will have to keep an eye on these as they look OK now, but the dentist is afraid they might die and she will eventually need a root canal, but only time will tell.

So for now, she can not eat with her front teeth for about a month and we are scheduled to visit the dentist once a month to keep an eye on the top two teeth.

So needless to say today did NOT goes as planned and although we are not out of the clear, it could always be worse and we made it back in time for Grandparents Day. 


Celebrate the Harvest Wordless Wednesday

Although The Farmer has spent all day in the sleeting, freezing rain, cold weather working on the farm (Thank God our pigs live in climate controlled buildings at 70 degrees year round protected from the elements), I thought it was only appropriate on this day before Thanksgiving that we Celebrate the Harvest we just had and reflect back on some great times from this harvest season because as hard as it is to believe Christmas will be here before we know it.

So here's to Celebrating the Harvest of 2010...

This is linked to A Beautiful Mess

P.S.  Today is not only the day before Thanksgiving, but it is also World Food Thanks Day. It is the day for us to not only be thankful for all of the food we have to eat, but also to thank those people and industries that help bring food to our tables. 

My number one food thanks is being a part of a family farm that works hard each and every day to help provide food for your family's dinner table from our family's farm and for all of my fellow family farmers that do the same. 

What are your food thanks?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Farmer Fridays - Guest Post from Katie of On the Banks of Squaw Creek

Today is one of those Special Edition Farmer Fridays as it features a guest post from one of those Real Farmwives of America and Friends, Katie from On the Banks of Squaw Creek.

So with no further ado, here it is...

Fill in the blank.

Potatoes are from Idaho, cheese is from Wisconsin, oranges are from Florida, and turkey comes from _________.

Anybody?  (crickets…)

Minnesota is the top turkey growing state in the US, but directly south, here in Iowa, we have a large group of turkey farmers, as well.  However, this was news to me when I met my husband back in 2002.  He grew up on a turkey farm 10 miles from me, and I didn’t even know turkeys were grown in Iowa until I met him.

Now, I am wife to a 3rd generation turkey farmer and mom to the 4th generation. 

Just in time for Thanksgiving, Heather asked me to write a guest post about our farm.  I decided to cover just the basics, since few people know very much about raising turkeys.

Twenty thousand (20,000) male baby turkeys (poults) come to us when they are 1 day old.  We unload them into a big, toasty, 90 degree barn called the “brooder.”  They live there until they are about 5 weeks old.  Inside the barn, there are automated feeders and waterers, which are triggered by the turkeys, so they have unlimited access to these.  The temperature in the barn is controlled by a thermostat, and there are vents that open and close automatically to help adjust it if needed.  The turkeys are not in cages – instead they are on sawdust bedding from a local sawmill.  For the first two weeks, chores take a few hours each morning, because of the supplemental feeders and waterers that we fill by hand.  We also chore the poults at night, but this is usually a quick walk through to make sure all equipment is running smoothly and that the turkeys seem comfortable.

Around 5 weeks of age, we move the turkeys to one of our two finisher sites.  (This is what I did all day yesterday.)  The finisher sites have two 528 foot buildings, so the turkeys have plenty of room to spread out as they grow.  These barns also have automated feeders and waterers and again, the temperature is controlled for the turkeys’ comfort.  Our finishers are tunnel ventilated, meaning that there are huge fans at one end that suck air through, creating up to a 10 mph breeze in the barns when necessary. (Most livestock barns have curtains instead and rely on the natural breezes to cool animals.) We also have misters that cool the birds in the summer.


The west finishers are on the left, the brooder in the middle, and the east finishers are on the right.  Our 100 year old farmhouse is near the brooder, closer to the gravel road.  The trees are surrounding Squaw Creek.


The turkeys stay in the finishers until they are ready for market at 19 1/2 weeks.  Until then, my husband chores them twice a day, walking through to check equipment, pick up dead, and look for any signs of distress or disease.  At the time they go to market, they average about 41 pounds.  These are not your Thanksgiving birds!  Our birds are processed for lunch meat and ground meat.  In fact, the processing plant we use supplies turkey to all the Subways west of the Mississippi River!

In the meantime, we would have already started a new flock in the brooder.  At 5 weeks, they would move to the OTHER finisher site.  In between flocks, there is about 4 weeks to clean and disinfect, and that is actually the busiest time for us.  So, every 9 weeks, we get a new flock of 20,000, and there is no break in between!  We raise almost 6 flocks, or 120,000 turkeys, in one year!

If you want to know more about turkey farming, learn about the remodel of our 100 year old farmhouse, or just stop by to say hi, come visit me On the Banks of Squaw Creek.  I’d love to see you there!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Manicotti and more manicotti

I was gone a lot this Fall so to help out even when I wasn't around, I tried to plan as many meals as possible for my mother-in-law and buy all of the ingredients in advance as I wasn't quite as prepared as I needed to be to make the meals in advance myself and freeze them for her.

One of the meals I planned was Manicotti and it got rave reviews even from Big Sissy who can be a tad picky at times.

Although I had yet to try the manicotti myself, I knew it would be the perfect thing to make this past weekend when I got together with some amazing women to take part in my first ever Freeze-O-Rama.  That's right, 12 women including myself  with some help from Big Sissy and Little Sissy got together on Saturday to make up 12 batches of our selected recipe so that each of us would go home with one item from each other and essentially fill up my freezer for future use.

Now that I have made 12 batches of manicotti, I can tell you that it was a good choice from the relatively low number of ingredients and prep dishes required; however, it was very time consuming to stuff 120 manicotti shells. 

Although it required a low number of ingredients, 12 batches of manicotti requires a lot of ingredients. 

Thankfully, I had Big Sissy to help so we took turns using my mother-in-law's Pampered Chef Easy Accent Decorator.  Unfortunately, we did break it with about 15 manicotti left to fill, but we managed to finish with some creativity and thankfully my GOODe friend, Cris, is having a online Pampered Chef party so I was able to order my mother-in-law a new one on the spot.

Saturday was a lot of fun and I can't wait to try all of the new dishes that are currently keeping my freezer company.  Now I only hope that everyone likes the manicotti.

Here is the recipe for the manicotti if you are interested:

3 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 ½ T chopped fresh parsley
1 t dried Italian seasoning
½ t garlic powder
½ t salt
½ t black pepper
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes in puree, undrained
1 jar (26 oz) marinara sauce
8 oz uncooked manicotti noodles
1 pound Italian sausage (optional)


Preheat oven to 375F.  Spray 13X9 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  Combine ricotta cheese, ¾ cup Parmesan cheese, eggs, parsley, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in medium bowl; set aside.  If using sausage, crumble in large skillet and brown over medium high heat until no longer pink.  Drain sausage on paper towel and drain fat from skillet.  Add tomatoes with juice and marinara sauce to same skillet; bring to boil over high heat.  Reduce to low; simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes.  Pour about 1/3 of sauce into prepared dish.  Stuff each uncooked noodle with about ½ c. cheese mixture.  Place in dish.  Top noodles with sausage; pour remaining sauce over noodles.  Cover tightly with foil and bake 50 minutes to 1 hour or until noodles are tender.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.  Serve with remaining ¼ c. Parmesan cheese. 

For the Freeze-O-Rama, I did not bake the manicotti.  After it was all prepared, I covered it with Press N' Seal and then aluminum foil. 

When ready to prepare, thaw, then remove the foil and Press N' Seal.  Then recover with the foil and Bake @ 375 degrees for 50-60 minutes.

This post is linked to the following parties:  GOODEness Gracious and Delicious Dishes @ Its' a Blog Party

Friday, November 12, 2010

Farmer Fridays - Bubby Says


Bubby loves his pigs.  Truly since Day 1, he has been a pig man and our conversations almost always have something to do with a pig or involve a pig. 
He was so proud to wear his pig tie when Big Sissy graduated from Pre-K.

He could barely contain himself at the State Fair this summer sitting next to the beautiful 2010 Indiana State Fair Queen that grew up on a pig farm.

And he couldn't wait to show Little Sissy his pigs and the real pigs when she was born.
Needless to say we were more than a little bit nervous when Bubby started Pre-K this year.  Although we love to educate others about our farm, we could only imagine what he would tell them.

When I picked him up from Pre-K today, his teachers asked me what a gilt was.  I had to laugh to myself as I could only wonder what he had told them about a gilt.  (A gilt is a female pig that has never had a litter of pigs.  Once she has a litter of pigs, she is called a sow.)  

Earlier in the week, they were making a list of what they were thankful for and Bubby said he was thankful for his Black gilt, Blackie, that would soon be having pigs.  They both laughed and said they knew it had to be some kind of pig, but they didn't know what.

I guess at age 5 Bubby is already doing a great job of educating others, even his teachers, about our amazing family farm. I'm sure his teachers knew they would get an education from their Pre-K students, but I wonder if this is what they had in mind.

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