Sweet and Sour Chicken

I want to try something new and post a recipe every now and then. One thing I do enjoy is cooking. I don’t know too many people who don’t like to eat! My recipe blogs are NOT going to be filled with pictures. They are NOT necessarily going to be healthy. One thing is for sure, they WILL be tasty (and fairly quick)! So here’s your first one to enjoy.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

(loosely adapted from Made it. Ate it. Loved it. with a few of my own perk ups!)

  • 3-5 Chicken Breasts
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Powdered Ginger
  • Garlic Powder
  • 1 Cup of Cornstarch (more if you use more than 5 chicken breasts)
  • 2 Eggs Beaten (more if you use more than 5 chicken breast)
  • 1/3 Cup Canola oil

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Begin to heat oil in a large skillet. Cube chicken in to bite size pieces. Beat 2 eggs in a large bowl, big enough to dip chicken pieces in. Mix corn starch, with dashes/generous sprinkles (we don’t get to technical here) salt, pepper, powdered ginger and garlic powder. Put in a bowl large enough to dredge the chicken pieces in. Dip the bite size chicken pieces in to the eggs, followed by the corn starch mixture. Place in to pan of hot oil. Brown and drain. Chicken does not need to be cooked thru. After draining place in a 9×13 pan.

Sauce Mixture:

 

  • 3/4 Cup White Sugar
  • 4 Tbsp Ketchup
  • 1/2 Cup White Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tsp Powdered Ginger

Whisk until smooth and pour over chicken. Bake at 350 degrees for a half hour. Stir part way thru to ensure good sauce coverage. Serve over rice or on its own.

I’ve also made this recipe then put it in the crock pot on low instead of in the oven and have had equally as scrumptious results. I just put it on low for about 3 hours.

Hope you enjoy!!!

 

Being Flexible

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The “one legged pigeon” pose. Photo found on yoga.about.com and taken by Barry Stone

Now that is some flexibility! I have a feeling my poor mother felt like this last night! We were all supposed to be eating supper at my parents house to celebrate my brothers birthday. As those of you with a farm know, there is a rule when it comes to holidays, family get- togethers and the likes. If something can break it will. If you are a farm family who has never had this problem, you are a rare and lucky kind, maybe buy a lotto ticket for the next drawing. If there’s one thing at our place that is an old faithful for falling apart (literally) it’s our feeding system.

Now many farms have what is called a TMR mixer to feed their cows/heifers these days. It is a handy piece of equipment that will mix all the ingredients needed in the cows ration.

                                      

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What a TMR mixer looks like. This one is pulled by a tractor. Some are also built on to the back of trucks.
jumpei-mitsui.com                                                     

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Inside a TMR mixer.
http://www.tractorlife.com

We do not have one of these fine contraptions. We use a series of belts and conveyors that takes silage from the silos and grain from a bin to deliver it to a feed bunk where the girls come to eat. This is what our feeder looks like:

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I think my dad and husband may agree that it smiles anymore before it blows, like it enjoys it.

Ok, may be not quite like that. I searched high and low and couldn’t find a comparable photo. I’m also at home and didn’t think going over to take a picture right now would be a good idea, as they are currently working on it. Now few people have this type of feeder left and ours was constructed around the same time Jesus was born. This makes it hard to find parts, lots of things have been patched out of necessity. It behaves about half of the time, the other half of the time it has profanities hollered at it, pieces beat back in to place and you hear mutterings of “we really need a TMR mixer”.

So now that I have given you the background story so you can more fully understand, on with my story. We started milking early last night. We’re normally finished with the afternoon milking around 6:30-7 o’clock. We were hoping to be eating around 7, so we started milking about a half hour early. Oh the sweet, innocent anticipation of everything going right…

My brother and I were milking, everything was going smooth. We literally had no problems. Cows were merrily walking in and standing to have their udders emptied of dairy goodness. My little cherubs were sleeping thru milking, having no complaints or request that need dealt with. We were problem free.

The other activities were not going so well. Tom went to the feed mill and picked up heifer feed. He then gave the hungry little juveniles their supper. Here’s where it starts to get ugly. After doing this, he goes back to feed the milk cows. Bum, bum,bum (sinister music)….. All goes well for awhile. Our feeder likes to make you think that it’s going to play nice. Then all the fury of Hades lets loose.

 

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Thank you Disney

So to make a VERY long story short, multiple things fell apart multiple times. After getting home from milking and getting the four of us clean and as presentable as we can be, I call my dear husband to see the status of the feeder. His only reply is “head over with out me”, this is not a good sign.

The tribe and I arrive at may parents ready to party. Everyone is there besides my husband and father who are working away on the feeder in a vain attempt to get cows fed some time that evening. We make the executive decision to start feasting on lasagna with out them. Some of you may find this decision a little uncaring. Let’s get something straight. We all know the history of our darling feeder. It’s bad, real bad. Sometimes you just need to eat while the lasagna’s hot and the men can warm theirs up later. So we eat and it is de-lish-ous. My mom makes some tasty lasagna. We socialize. We finally hear from our dear men folk about an hour and a half later. They are done and headed home! Yea! After they get cleaned up from the silage stink/grain dust/cow pooey, they get to eat their fill of the tasty lasagna.

We finally bust out birthday cake a little after 9. After a lovely singing of Happy Birthday we dive in and enjoy Derek’s request of white Texas sheet cake with cream cheese frosting. Thankfully the tribe napped during milking or it could have gotten to be an even longer night!

Kudos go to my mom who cooked and baked all day to have it be eating on a sliding schedule! Now the feeder has become todays project, that is hopefully only a one day project. Nothing like rolling with the punches and being incredibly flexible to have a meal together. Oh, and a BIG happy birthday to my little brother who’s leaving his “teen” years behind him today while he turns 20!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picking Baby Names

Picking a baby name is not always the easiest thing to do. Some people can get hung up on it for days, if not weeks sometimes. Then there are those names that you just know you want to use. Something cute, something catchy, maybe even something funny. If you haven’t caught on yet, I’m not talking about naming little humans. I’m talking about naming calves.

Now some farms name their calves and cows, some farms don’t. Just because someone doesn’t name their calves doesn’t mean that animal is not getting good quality care. It’s not a big farm/ small farm thing. It just depends on personal preference. For instance my family milks right around 115 cows. They don’t all have names. Maybe a quarter of the animals have names. Part of these animals have names because they are registered with a breed association. Part of these animals have just acquired names for one reason or another as they went about their little cow ways. When I was in college I had to complete an internship to receive my degree. I worked on a dairy farm that milked 550 cows. They ALL had names. Yes, 550 names for the cows plus names for all the calves and heifers (teenage cows). I still remember names of the ones who were my favorites and the ones who were trouble makers.

If all of our calves don’t have names you may be wondering how we tell them apart. When every heifer calf is born she receives a number. This is how she is identified by us in the barn and how she is recognized in our record keeping system on the computer. All the babies get an ear tag with their number on it. Not only does the tag have their number but also their moms number, their dads name and their birthday. Calves are tagged within the first day or two of being born (as long as yours truly isn’t slacking). If some of you are worried, it’s no different than getting your ears pierced.

Now that I’ve hopefully not bored you with a “technical” paragraph… on to our cows who have gotten names. Part of our herd is registered with the Holstein Association. This means their ancestry can be traced back many generations thru the Holstein herd book. We pick names in a wide variety of ways. Most cow families are centered around a letter of the alphabet. For example you can have an “A” family where every name starts with an A. We’ve also gotten on rhyming kicks before that can get interesting to say the least. Fancy had Nancy, Freckles had Speckles (who was not spotted by the way) then Speckles had Splatter, which I personally think is one of the cooler names we currently have.

Occasionally you encounter a very prolific cow family. Freckles, from the paragraph above, had many daughters who have also have had many daughters. You can only do so many names that start with “F” before they start getting a little crazy. I can introduce you to a heifer names Francesca if you would like. I don’t know about you, I do not know too many cows named Francesca.

Then there are the poor calves who fall victim to my children naming them. Most recently we have “Bubbles” and of course “Mommy Bubbles”, she was one of those cows who acquired a name on long the way. They’ve also gotten on color kicks before. Greeny, Orangey, and Whitey Whitey. Now Whitey Whitey fell in to some controversy because Emma wanted to name her Nutmeg and Taylor stuck to his guns with Whitey Whitey. Then there was the infamous “Booger”, some of you may remember her story if you have been friends with me on Facebook. She was born almost 6 weeks early.

Booger a few days old. She was about 35 pounds at the time.

Booger a few days old. She was about 35 pounds at the time.

So there you have it. Some cows have names. Some cows don’t have names. All farmers take the best care possible of their cows regardless of if they have a name or not. And sometimes it’s a little fun to play the name game!

Crazy Busy Easter!

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Out of 3 kids I have 1 who is currently photogenic. Thanks Emma! Taylor was scared of the bunny and Henry had no idea what was holding him. Poor Tom was wrangling the mess for a picture!

 

To say these past few days have been busy would be a slight understatement! I feel like I’ve been running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Between church happenings, family Easter gatherings and dyeing Easter eggs, I’m glad Tom and I were able to sneak away for a few hours with no, yes I said no, children. I realize I haven’t blogged in almost a week, so I have a feeling this may be a little long. I apologize.

To start off our Easter festivities we went to church Thursday evening for Maundy Thursday service. This year we did something different and had a carry-in dinner to represent an Agape feast. For those who may not know what “Agape” means:

Question: “What is agape love?”

Answer: The Greek word agape is often translated “love” in the New Testament. How is “agape love” different from other types of love? The essence of agape love is self-sacrifice. Unlike our English word “love,” agape is not used in the Bible to refer to romantic or sexual love. Nor does it refer to close friendship or brotherly love, for which the Greek word philia is used. Nor does agape mean “charity,” a term which the King James translators carried over from the Latin. Agape love is unique and is distinguished by its nature and character.

Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/agape-love.html#ixzz2zYdqhOH4

Thank you to gotquestions.org for that definition, way better than I could have given! There was a great sense of fellowship thru the evening with the adults socializing and the kids playing together. Great evening of food and fellowship!

Friday I was flat out miserable. I succumb to tree pollen every spring. So far I had been having very little problems this spring, probably because this spring has been more like an extended winter. Well Ohio has decided to thaw and with the thaw came pollen in abundance. I came home from milking in the morning and lived on Claritan, Tylenol and the couch. Now when Mom is sick in this house it either goes great with the tribe trying to take care of me or it’s apocalyptic. Friday was the later of the two. The elder tribesmen took opportunity to be destructive and argumentative, the smallest tribe member decided he had to be the human tick. I often refer to Henry as the human tick. The kid has a slight binge eating problem some days. By the time Tom came home from the barn I was tired and down trodden. I felt, and I have a feeling looked, like I had been hit by a truck. I declared Pizza Hut night! With no naps the kids went to bed early. I did too, fairly certain I didn’t see 8 o’clock.

Saturday was chaotic to say the least! It started with my mother-in-law coming down to watch the tribe so Tom and I could go away for a few child free hours to the Ohio Holstein spring sale. We went with out a trailer, not sure if we wanted to make any purchases. The last 2 sales we have went to with no trailer, we have came home with a cow… One day we will learn! Meet miss Reba!

Waiting to be milked, kind of impatiently.

Waiting to be milked, kind of impatiently.

Reba is a registered Holstein. When register cattle are sold at auction (and privately) several things are looked at. Pedigree, who are mom and dad? Did mom and grandma give very much milk? Did they look nice? Then the animal herself: does she give lots of good, tasty milk? What does she look like? Is she healthy? How old is she? Every farmer and breeder has different things they put more emphasis on then others. While Reba produces good quality milk, she just produced average amounts last year. She recently had a baby last month and has decided to strive a little higher with this calving. For some of you not farming acclimated you may be wondering how much milk does a cow give? Miss Reba is giving about 100 pounds of dairy goodness a day. That’s roughly 12 gallons. We purchased Reba because on top of milking fairly well, she is a pretty lady. There is one ting I enjoying doing in the summer when I can find some down time, that’s taking some of our pretty ladies to local shows and county fairs. Hopefully Reba and some other ladies get to see some shows this year!

After buying Reba, we had to rush home for the big Easter egg hunt at the local community park. That was the big excitement. The top picture on this post is the best I could get with the bunny that day. Taylor was terrified of the large blue bunny. We had this problem with him last year. That and he also detest having his picture taken. Henry isn’t capable of focusing for a planned picture and thankfully little Em is naturally photogenic. In about 2.5 seconds the park went from being covered in candy stuffed plastic Easter eggs to being picked clean. Here’s a few pictures of the tribe doing their egg picking!

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Striking a pose.

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T grabbing some eggs.

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Em prancing around the park.

After the egg hunt the 2 eldest tribe members went with their Gram (my mother-in-law) so the procrastinating Easter bunny could go hopping to town to get stuff for Easter baskets. We brought the human tick with us, figuring he couldn’t talk to tell the others. A few books, movies and some candy and the Easter bunny came hopping back home.

That evening we had an Easter egg dyeing party at my parents. Food, campfire and a few beverages. The kids had a blast coloring eggs, Taylor may have also dyed his hands orange. The kids loved they had all their grandparents there. Tom’s mom lives over an hour away from us, so the kids had a special Easter weekend complete with Pa, Ma-Ma and Gram. Gram also got to get in on some the fun she may miss. Of course I have egg dyeing pictures. I was a bit of a camera nut this weekend 🙂

Tater sporting some nice shades

Tater sporting some nice shades

Emma making some pretty eggs

ckEmma making some pretty eggshe

We stayed up way to late partying with the eggs. While it was all good fun, I was back up a little before 3 AM to feed the human tick before milking. Now we normally start milking at 4 AM, but with Easter I wanted to make sure we had plenty of time to make church. Our church has a nice breakfast Easter morning. If you haven’t caught on, we eat a lot at our church and we have some amazing cooks who go there. It is always an added plus! After we made it home from milking the kids looked for their baskets to see what ol’ Peter Cottontail brought them. All three tribesmen received books, Emma had a Frozen DVD ( I have to say after watching it twenty times I still have not caught on to what all the hype is about), Taylor found a copy of Despicable Me 2 (much cuter). Little Henry didn’t have a basket this year. He received a shiny new Bumbo seat that had a few goodies for him. I wish we would have found these Bumbo chairs a few kids ago. Amazing little seats!

After goodies and candy, off to church we went. We attend a small country church. To walk in and see it full to capacity was quite the sight. And the little kids, so many! We normally have a healthy crop of little ones anymore, but this Sundays was unreal, such a blessing to see!

Church was followed by a few brief minutes of down time as we said bye to Tom’s mom. Then off to milk the lovely ladies again before supper at my parents house. It was an afternoon where if it could break, it did. Holidays seem to go this way on the farm! But upon surviving work we were rewarded with a delicious supper. Pork roast, beef roast, baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, salad, the list goes on and on. No one left hungry!

This morning was rough I’m not going to lie. But the good news is I made it thru milking, chores, a herd check with the vet(I’ll explain later if you don’t know what that is) and I’m now off til Wednesday morning. In that time someone needs to find this house. It appears as though a small tornado has blown thru. Hopefully I didn’t bore you to tears and you had a blessed and happy Holy week and Easter!

 

 

All Cooped Up!

Ohio is not known for its awesome spring weather. Or any season for that matter really. This past weekend was gorgeous. I mean picture perfect. Low seventies, sunshine, nice breeze. Tuesday we had a delightful snow. Sunday 70 degrees, Tuesday snow. Now I’ll be one of the first to admit, my kids are a smidgen feral. I don’t call them the tribe for nothing. They can be a little pack of natives some days. Well when they went from gorgeous weather to play outside in, to three days of rain, cold and snow they got a little twitchy.

Monday morning they played outside in the chilly sprinkles. Their bikes were just calling them. After riding bikes and tending to our Noah’s Ark-esque collection of animals they retired inside. Being bored of confinement after about 2 hours of inside play, the eldest tribe members decided that they were going to haul home a springing (close to calving) heifer with their dad. Upon Tom dragging his feet at taking them in the rain, they took matters in to their own hands and just sat in his truck until he was ready to leave. Big excitement once they reached the Amish farm that raises our bred heifers. While waiting to be picked up, the heifer grew impatient and decided to plop her baby out then and there. After getting the new little family back to the farm, Taylor promptly names the calf “Bubbles”. So to follow suit, the fresh heifer became “Mommy Bubbles”. The kids then traipsed around the farm getting cold and soggy helping feed calves. Occasional pit stops were made in the parlor to warm up, but not too often. When we were done milking going home and getting warm bathes and eating supper quickly brought on bed time to two cold, sleepy pre-schoolers. Thank goodness! Being in the house too much brings on bad cases of the crankies for Emma and Taylor.

Waking up Tuesday morning to the snow was disgusting and depressing. By this time the kids were bummed to see the bad weather. Emma actually went on record to say she was sick of snow, and that kid LOVES snow. Emma had school Tuesday so she was at least beckoned out of the house for a while. Taylor was content playing his farm set for the time being. Who am I kidding, the kid could play on his farm set for-ev-er.Henry could care less what the weather is as long as he can cuddle and eat. The little guy loves being outside but it flat out exhausts him. Henry outside for a half hour will normally score you about a two hour nap!

This leads us to the other juvenile in the house. Miss Bella. Bella is a 14 week old Australian Cattle Dog/ Blue Heeler, which ever you prefer. She is 6 pounds of pure destruction. The only way to make a heeler puppy tolerable, at best, is lots and I mean LOTS of outside play. This is not achieved when it’s 25 degrees and snowing. This leaves me with stir crazy kids and a psychotic puppy.

The only saving grace to my sanity was getting our taxes done. Now believe you me, the taxes were not stress free, but H&R Block is a rather quiet place. Followed up by lunch at Subway with the hubby. Quiet time was ended after picking up the tribe from my parents. The kids did take a brief nap after getting home from my parents house. Most likely from boredom of being “on the inside.”

Emma has dance class on Tuesday afternoons. Watching ten 3 and 4 year olds learn how to dance is comparable to watching cats being herded. Nonetheless, Emma loves dance and it’s nice to talk to the other moms. Taylor went off to feed “Bubbles” with his dad while Em had dance. I forgot in a weeks time what a pain it was to bundle kids up in bibs, coats, mittens and hats. It all quickly came back. Bedtime was sadly not as swift Tueday evening.

This morning was incredibly hard to get out of bed to go milk the ladies. I checked the weather app on my phone to see it was a crisp 22 degrees. I should not have looked at this while under the toasty covers in my bed. Sadly, I got up and dressed, this included my bibs which I thought I had retired for a season or two. Scraping barns was nippy but thankfully the parlor was toasty with a pot full of coffee.

As the sun came up, it became very clear that it was going to be a very deceiving day. The sun was shining, the clouds are big and fluffy, all while the thermometer is reading 35 degrees. At least today Emma and Taylor have been able to ride their bikes by the garage and the crazy puppy can run off lots of energy. Little Henry and I have been watching from the window. We did shake it up a little and go grocery shopping. Thankfully everyone behaved. I once read a blog on parenting. It said you should decide how many children you want, then try to manage that many loose goats in a grocery store. If you can handle that many free goats, you can handle that many kids. Pretty sure there’s some days I’d rather shop with goats. Thankfully that was not today!

I’m remaining hopeful that the sixty degree weather is coming tomorrow as promised. I guess that’s all us Ohioans have to cling to this time of the year. The hope that it will eventually get warm and spring has to come sooner or later.

Specie Study: The 3 Year Old Boy

My tribe, as I loving call my troop of children, is composed of three little humans. The eldest is a 4 year old girl. She is a trip in her own right. Next in line is a 3 year old boy. Lastly is my sweet little 4 month old boy. Today I wish to write about the one whom I have decided has recently became a specie all his own. Any other mother of a toddler/pre-school age boy knows exactly what I’m talking about. Now I love my little “T-man” as he calls himself. But in recent months he has become one “unique” character for lack of better terms.

I like when people have these sweet little pictures of their small boys on various social media outlets. All cute and innocent looking. Don’t get me wrong, my little man is a sweety. He is adorable. He acts as though I’m the best thing since sliced bread. This happens some days. I also have a very strong willed, stubborn, ornery, high strung, dirty little being living in my home. These two sides don’t always balance the other out. Gone are the days of the little baby boy in the blue doggy romper. That chubby faced baby has evolved in to what I’m really pondering if it is a human sub-specie, possibly going back to something more Neanderthal.

You see all these cute little quotes about little boys. Examples:

boy

This example was found on Pinterest

However I believe the following is an entirely much more accurate depiction. I apologize for it being harder to read, however I think you get the gist.

zombie

You often see “Boy: dirt with noise on it.” It doesn’t really go in to depth with how much dirt nor how much noise is on this boy. I can tell you the middle tribesmen is composed of a LOT of dirt and a LOT of noise. Dirt from digging holes, playing in sand piles, mud from mud pies, etc. And as mother, it is my duty to participate in these activities with him or he becomes hostile. Don’t get me wrong, he’s fun to play with but sometimes he goes a little over board.

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Making mud pies, which were later used as weaponry.

 

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An infamous sand pile picture.

I’m pretty sure dirt, mud and sand oozes from his pores some days. Which leads us to one of his least favorite activities, bathing. If I let him have his way he would maybe, maybe bathe monthly. Part of me wants to blame this on when he had infantile psoriasis and he was not to be bathed more than two or three times a week. However, I know truthfully it’s because he is a little boy, trying to exercise his “freedoms”.

While on the subject of grossness, bodily functions MUST be brought up if I’m going to do my currently most uncivilized justice. Any burp, fart, poop or urination is great source of amusement. If he has any type of flatulence that you don’t acknowledge he makes sure to bring it to your attention. Poop of any origin or form is enough humor to last him days and his new habit of peeing “outside like a man” and attempting to make shapes disturbs me. I’m not gonna lie. Thankfully he is not a bugar man, I don’t know if I could take that much gross in a forty five pound package.

Moving on to the differences I’ve noticed with my Taylor. His appetite is one that cannot be tamed. That boy can eat. Thankfully he’s not picky. Other than mushrooms, which I blame on his father, he will eat anything. And large amounts of anything. Once, in a moment of complete immaturity of his parents (hey we slip sometimes) we tried to see how many chicken nuggets he would eat. I’m not going to lie it was impressive and he then didn’t eat for a few days. I believe the grand total was eleven. He also can down large amounts of hot dogs, yogurt and peanut butter.

Noise, oh the noise. I think this is just pre-school age in general. I’ve yet to encounter a quiet pre-schooler. I think they’re kind of like unicorns, non-existent. We have enough screaming, shrieking, laughing, squawking and yelling to make up for every house on this street.

Taylor also has a huge interest in doing everything like his father. He plays with his farm set for hours. Thankfully we are finally getting glimpses of spring and he can hopefully do more farming outside with his dad and ‘pa then pretending on my dining room table. He has taken to eating meals by his farm set so he can both continue playing and protect it from his sister. When he does the “real deal” it burns much, much more energy.

As I watch him and think sometimes what a struggle it is with him some days. You can’t become to frustrated with the little guy, when he knows he is up to no good he’ll bat his huge eyelashes at you, giving you the cutest little “Bambi” eyes.  I realize these days won’t last long. He’ll hopefully take up bathing regularly on his own some day, simmer the noise down a little and not eat me out of house and home. Then I hear Henry coo and it reminds me of something. In 2 years, 8 months and 22 days I will have another 3 year old boy.

 

 

 

 

 

Can’t We All Just Get Along

Awhile ago I read about a dairy who suffered the horrible tragedy of having their barn collapse. The way the articles I’ve read on it explain that the weight of the snow plus a rainy day had disasterous consequences and their free stall barn containing 650 milking cows collapsed. Awful. I could not and do not want to imagine being in that horrid situation. By the grace of God, few cows were lost. While flipping thru the latest issue of Hoard’s Dairyman, a popular dairy industry magazine, I once again saw an article about this tragedy. The thing that caught my attention wasn’t the bulk of the story itself. It was three lines, printed in bold, in the middle of the page.

“The size of the farm, type of cows or method of farming is not significant. What matters is the farmers’ bond that forms in times of crisis.”-Marilyn Hershey

It was Mrs. Hershey and her husbands barn who came crashing down. Now I don’t know this farming family and highly doubt I ever will. The words that she used to describe that situation hit me. I, like most people in America, probably most of the world, have a Facebook account. My friends are mainly composed of high school friends, college friends and industry connections. However I have some people, some of them other farmers no less, who put down “conventional” farmers daily. This bothers me. Not only because I’m a “conventional” farmer with no thought what so ever of being organic, but because we farmers only make up a rough 2% of the American population. Now I don’t know about you, 2% is not a big number to me. That means 98% are consumers with no or little farming connection. That is a hefty amount of people who control the market. In my eyes, this means we should all be sticking together all the time, not just times of crisis. No bullying amongst ourselves.

There are many types of farming these days. Conventional, organic, natural, gmo-free, free range, etc. That makes my hands tired just typing the possibilities. Everyone has their own way they want to farm. Cool beans. But for goodness sake don’t condemn your neighboring farmer! We all work hard, we all have had years of plenty and years where it’s Hamburger Helper and Spaghetti-O’s for supper 7 nights a week. My husband and I have a joke when we go to a cattle auction, as we start to approach our spending limit we discuss how many upcoming nights we want to be dining on Hamburger Helper. He despises the stuff, so you know if he keeps bidding he really wants to own her.

I don’t mean for my blog to get preachy or to have it shove farming down your throat. I actually pondered for a while if I wanted to approach this topic. But my newsfeed has been filled with un-friendly things and I coincidentally saw the above article while multi-tasking with Facebook and reading. I don’t have much down time so I have to sneak in a bunch of things at once! I know people have written blogs, many blogs, about this subject before. I just wish it was something which was practiced more than it was preached.

Our farm itself has no interest in becoming any of the things listed above, besides maintaining our “conventional” practices. This means if our animals are sick and have an illness an anti-biotic will help we give it to them. We vaccinate, feed lots of the crops we grow (some are GMO) and do not pasture our cattle with the exception of bred heifers at our heifer growers and a dirt lot the older cows have access to in nice weather. However, I don’t see where the person raising natural animals down the road is doing a better or worse job than us. Their animals are well cared for, they are nice people and they sell very good products, which I regularly purchase. One of the products I ordered this month was a GMO-free Greek yogurt which a neighboring dairy produces themselves with their own milk. Now that is some cool stuff, processing your own milk. We also have friends with a dairy farm who are considering making the move to organic. The practice would fit in to their operation nicely and the extra premium that comes from being certified organic is always a plus. Now the point I’m getting at is we know, talk to and do business with all the types of farmers listed above. I have no problem with their production practices. I do not condemn them for not producing their products like we do.

When we start attacking each other we quickly lose the bond that Mrs. Hershey talked about in her article. I don’t understand the need to instill fear in to consumers to sell your product. Preach the good points, market the benefits. Don’t market something at another producers expense. People don’t realize the huge audience they reach on social media. It doesn’t take long for negative things to spread. For example I share a post about some practice I see as “negative” and my 350 friends see it. One of them shares it with their friends, BOOM there’s another 300 or 400 people. I also had no idea when I started this blog that people would be the slightest bit interested in what I was rambling about. My blog about sand had three readers in Australia and four in Canada. Talk about catching me by surprise!

If you want to eat local great! We ship to a local dairy about a half hour from our farm. If you want to eat organic great! Those farmers need consumers buying their food. Natural farmers, free range farmers and GMO-free producers need people consuming their products too. Us “conventional”, that word sounds so boring to me, need consumers buying our products. We should all be building each other up instead of being nit-picky about things that we either don’t understand or don’t agree with. When push comes to shove every farmer is doing the same thing, trying to provide food, clothing and fuel for the world. I really hope this didn’t come off as corny or preachy, I tried really hard not to! After proof reading it I feel like it should end with a YouTube clip of people singing Kumbaya  and an apology for my rantings.

Country Fair Blog Party

Chickens Are Over Taking My Home..And Yard….And Garage…

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This sign perfectly describes my daughter

I have a four year old daughter. She has an obsession. And it’s chickens. Now every little kid needs a hobby, my daughter has just decided that hers should include caring for live fowl. The middle tribesmen sits and plays with a farm set for hours if left unbothered, the eldest would do the same caring for baby chicks. This obsession began innocently enough. Last year Tom and I succumbed to Chick Days at our local Rural King (a farm supply store, for those not in the “know”). We knew we wanted to have some layers, as well as some to eat. We left the store with 50 chicks. emma2013

Some pullets (girl chicks) and the majority were straight run chicks (boy and girl chickens) with the assumption about half or so would be roosters and they would become yummies in our tummies. We also assumed we may have a small death loss, we were unaware of how hearty these little boogars actually are at the time. So long story short, we only had 6 roosters and everyone lived thru “chickhood”. This left us with 44 hens. Now about this time was when Emma started to really take the chickens under her wing, so to speak. We all talked and decided that 20 hens would be ample for us at the time. The rest went off to become nuggets.

This leads us in to August. Emma’s mother hen came out in her full force. She was tending to her hens daily. I’m positive we currently have the friendliest coop of hens in the county, possibly the state. It’s amazing what happens when a4 year old girl hand raises you! Some of them may think they are truly dogs.  One sunny August day Emma found an egg sitting in one of the old rabbithutches in our barn. Apparently the hens forgot to notify us they were laying, as this is what we found after cleaning out the box.

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Everyone should wear a pink tutu to clean out nesting boxes.

There ended up being 20 some eggs. Being that the eggs were of undetermined age, the hogs we were raising at the time had a tasty little snack. We knew that our hens would make more eggs than we could eat, but thought between grandparents, great-grandparents, we wouldn’t have that many extras. Our little over achievers like to lay eggs apparently. For most of the fall we were getting 18 eggs daily. Emma developed an eggclientele. When she had extras she would take them to the local hay auction. Anymore she really enjoys this, the auctioneer and several people there have realized that a little4 year old brings in her extra bounty once a month. She generally gets a nice price for them! So this prompted talk of expansion.

 

There is a hatchery, not far from us, that is nationally recognized. I saw, via Facebook the carrier of all important knowledge, that they were having a chick sale. So after Tom and I talking, we brought it up to her. So today we had 30 new little pullets (girl chicks) come to live in our garage.

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The current chick habitat is a cattle water tub, rigged up with heat lamps, feed and electrolyte enhanced water. I’m hoping it warms up quickly outside. For many reasons, but last years chicks could fly out of the tub before they were relocated. Made going to the garage a treat! From there they’ll go to a pen beside our current hens until they are big enough to join them. I’m actually able to write this blog in peace and quiet because the eldest two of the tribe are sitting in lawn chairs, in our garage, watching chicks. Better than cartoons I guess! Taylor likes the chickens as well, but his passion is ponies. I’m sure some day his trusty stead, Jack, will get a post in his honor.

Emma also has a hen who is a little rebellious. It’s always good to see her encounter a living being with the same strong will she has. Chick-O-letta , as she has been dubbed, refuses to stay in the coop. She has found a hole the others have not and uses it as her personal door. She is waiting outside the barn to greet you when you go up to do chores.

Emma wants to make her obsession known to her peers tomorrow during show and tell. It’s a spring theme and she originally wanted to take in a chicken. I quickly vetoed that idea. So we are going to make a collection of pictures with her and her brood. I’m sure that is one pre-school class that will be well versed on chickens by the time they go home! I really do admire the girls enthusiasm when it comes to her little feathered friends!

Her hens have enabled her to become quite the little entrepreneur. Her dollars, as she puts it, go in to her savings account. It’s a good way to teach her about money, as well as making her a more outgoing person by talking to her customers when they come to pick up eggs. Believe it or not, the kid is actually kind of shy when out of her element.

I’m not sure if we are supportive parents or if we are enablers. Either way she’s enjoying them, we’re all benefitting and she’s learning how to be a responsible little business woman. I believe it’s a win-win!