Can You See It?

Hello Lil Ass Followers!  Can you see it in the horizon, no not the sun, make sure you’re sitting down for this one…the end of summer is drawing upon us FAST!  Okay now that you’ve gotten over my shocking announcement pick yourself back up; it’s not over yet.  There is 8 or 9 days until the Minnesota State Fair for twenty days until Labor day (kids don’t read this part) which means school starts in MN in twenty-one days.  I can hear the parents rejoicing from here; quiet down adults or the kids won’t think you love them.

So that leaves 15-20 days left to do whatever it is YOU want to do.  Yes there are practices and activities that will happen between now and then, but if needed you can make a mini-vacation work.  There is still the Steele County Fair happening in our area this week and that’s a great opportunity to take your family out to see the hard work and dedication that the 4-H and FFA kids have put into their projects through out the year.  So I hope that you don’t sweat the small details and worry about summer ending soon, enjoy it while it’s still here and soak up every ounce of sun you can for soon we’ll all be complaining about that white stuff on the ground and the bitter cold temperatures.  As an old football coach used to say “Enjoy the Season!”

Now what have we been up to on the farm?  Well it’s been a busy summer mowing the lawn as it doesn’t quit growing, weeding and harvesting our luscious vegetables from my garden, taking care of our livestock (we always have fresh chicken and eggs for sale), and myself, I’ve been working with my two county Farm Bureau’s that I’m Office Assistant for, and

lots of volunteering!  Karla has been working hard at her two jobs, but has also been able to take some time off and has enjoyed some fun day trips  with friends.

What volunteer work you wonder?  I have lots of irons in the fire at all times and I have to be honest some times I’m not sure if I’m coming or going.  The main ones I’ve been working with this summer have been MN Farm Bureau as a member of the Promotion & Education State Committee, Rice County Master Gardeners, and my biggest loves FFA and 4-H.  For FFA I’ve been active as a Randolph FFA Alumni Executive Committee member and Secretary; this past weekend the FFA Alumni and New Trier Tractor Pullers held a joint Tractor and Truck Pull.  Even though it rained a ton a day before the pull, the crew got the track in great shape and it was a success!

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Brian judging general projects @ the Dakota County Fair 

My favorite part of the summer is always the county fairs and even though this year I’ve only been able to go to two of them (Rice and Dakota) I’ve enjoyed them both!  I grew up a Rice County 4-H member and will always see that as my “home” county.  I would have to say coming in at a close second would be Dakota because of a few different reasons: I know so many kids and families in Dakota County it’s fun to see them all exhibit their animals and general projects, I’ve always gone to the Dakota fair because I grew up right next to the county and had lots of friends there, plus the competition is really fierce in the county, but the kids as far as I can tell really enjoy showing together and do it with respect.  This past week Dakota County 4-H celebrated 100 years of 4-H in the county; what an awesome accomplishment!  That’s a lot of sweat, blood, and tears that have been shed in those barns.

What’s the reason I wrote about all of this crazy talk of enjoying summer, doing what you love, and enjoying what you do?  Well since you asked, it’s because summer is almost over and with that brings the end of one season and onto another.  If we don’t take the time to “smell the roses” then they’ll die before you knew they were in bloom.

Have a great day and when in doubt, be nice to one another!

 

 

Find your Passion in P&E

This is an entry that I did for the MN Farm Bureau monthly newspaper that was printed a few weeks ago.  It talks abouot finding your passion in Promotion and Education of MN Farm Bureau.

Brian Randolph

MFBF P&E Committee, District V

Many of you who have progressed out of the Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) program or joined Farm Bureau later in life may wonder, “What exactly is Promotion and Education or P&E?”

Agriculture in the Classroom
Promotion and Education is just that; we promote Farm Bureau and all things agriculture while also educating our peers and consumers. This involves everything from Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) to Breakfast on the Farm to consumer outreach events at local grocery stores. If your passion is teaching agriculture to Kindergarten through 5th grade, AITC events would be a great fit for you. Sue Knott with Minnesota AITC is a great asset and resource. She is always there to lend a helping hand whether it is a question on a topic to finding schools that would like to have a farmer in their classroom. Sue can be reached at sue.knott@state.mn.us.

Breakfast on the Farm
Breakfast on the Farm is an opportunity for counties to bring families, kids, consumers, and elected and appointed officials to the farm to learn first-hand about agriculture, farming and Farm Bureau. This is a great way to start conversations with people who may not have access to a farm, teach about agriculture, clear up any misconceptions and foster great relationships through conversations over a meal. I’ve seen firsthand how well this type of an event can be a positive outcome for all involved. What a great way to engage with consumers!

Consumer Outreach
Consumer outreach can also be done through grocery store events. These events start by finding a grocery store interested in hosting farmers willing to visit with consumers about how they grow their food. Plan to have these events during popular grocery shopping times.

Things to bring along for the event range from Farm Bureau brochures and commodity organization recipes/brochures; giveaway items with the Farm Bureau logo such as pens, pencils, cooler bags, spatulas; and commodity organization activity books, stickers, etc. This project can lead to very good conversations over the different foods found at the grocery store, and how you raise safe food for their families. The shoppers are generally receptive to hear about your farm and what you produce.

Leadership Development
As members of Farm Bureau, we are all leaders. Either through membership or as a county board member, you lead by example and with your voice. Each year at the end of January/beginning of February, the state P&E and YF&R Committees hold the Minnesota Farm Bureau Leadership Conference. The conference is such an exciting time to learn about “leading” and how to share your story. There are many different breakout sessions throughout the conference, tours of local businesses, and great times to meet new people from around the state. Anyone can come to this conference: members, people interested in becoming a member to county leaders.

If you want to learn how to be a better leader, put this conference on your calendar, February 3-4, 2017 in Bemidji! If you’re unable to make it there, look for opportunities to share your passion about agriculture in your counties and districts.

In Closing
Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) and American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture (AFBF) have many resources for you. If you have any ideas for P&E events or questions, contact me at randolph725@gmail.com. To learn more about MFBF’s resources contact Ruth Meirick at 651-768-2115 or ruth.meirick@fbmn.org, or learn more about AFBF resources at agfoundation.org.

Find your passion, whether in the classroom, on the farm or at the Leadership Conference. There is a place for you in P&E. Take hold of what matters to you and work hard at it! Agriculture needs you to share your story.

Miss America

Today was just another Monday; moved the sheep to pasture, Karla caught a missing laying hen in the shed, and then  I got to meet Miss America.  Wait…what did he just write?  Miss America?!  Yes it’s true, Miss America came to the neighboring towns of Hampton, Northfield, and Dundas to tour the local establishments, farms, and schools.  She started off her day at Little Oscar’s in Hampton for breakfast, then made her way to Northfield to see Far-Gaze Farms and one of their pea fields, from there it was off to Wolf Creek Dairy in Dundas for lunch with many MN Farm Bureau members, 4-H’ers and other leaders in the ag industry, and lastly she was going to Northfield’s Sibley School to talk with the students about food.

meetbetty

 

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Betty Cantrell, Miss America 2016

I got to hear her speak at the dairy farm where she told us more about her farming background, how she got started with Miss America, and even got to hear her sing!  She is from the state of Georgia and was raised on a farm where they grew peaches, pecans, and other crops.  Betty isn’t your average girl, she grew up as a bit of a “tom girl”, shooting guns and hunting with her dad.

This young lady is a great asset to us in the agricultural and food industry, she’s out there teaching kids about food and farming.  What a powerful influence to have, Miss America, challenging youth and adults to engage in agriculture.  We are not only lucky to have her on our side, but that she is able to be knowledgeable on many different topics and has some good people in the American Farm Bureau helping her a long the way.  Her platform as Miss America is to have “Healthy Children, Strong America”  What’s a better way to build a strong America through good quality foods raised by American farmers?

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Dakota County Farm Bureau members with Miss America

You could see by the fifty or so people in the Liebenstein’s shop at Wolf Creek Dairy that everyone was engaged in her message and enjoyed hearing her message to the crowd.  Thank you Betty for coming to our little towns in Minnesota and helping us strive to better feed America.  If you get a chance google her and watch some of her videos.

Video of Betty singing

 

Spring has Sprung

The birds are chirping, the flowers are growing, and new life is born in the country, what an exciting time in the country!  It’s April 18th and by now if you live in Minnesota or surrounding states you certainly know that farmer’s are hard at work, #plant16 is off and going strong!  My in-laws starting picking rock and digging up their fields early last week and are working on putting on anhydrous ammonia in preparation to start planting seed corn.  This is pretty early in the spring season to get started planting cofrn, but with the warm summer like temperatures, it’s hard not to put some corn in the ground.  Many farmers have already planted their small grains like wheat, oats, etc.

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My Brother-in-law digging up our field

As the seeds get sown the cow/calf operators are finishing up their calving crops for the year and working on keeping the calves strong and healthy.  Many times  the livestock operators also do cash crops and are busy doing a bunch of different jobs.  What a busy, but exciting time of year.  The farm families are helping where needed too; giving rides to fields, providing meals to hungry hard working souls, and burning the bridge at both ends.

Yes farmers hate being so busy and working the long hours, but in other ways it’s one of their favorite times of years as it means new growth and a fresh start for the farm.

On our tiny farm we have started raising broiler chickens in late March and by Wednesday they will be 4 weeks old with only 4 weeks left until they are ready for market.  It’s so fun seeing the chicks grow from week to week.  I’ve been taking a picture of them at each week of life and the changes they make are gigantic.

1 day
1 Day old
1 day
2 weeks
3 weeks
3 weeks

If you are ever in need of chicken please contact me and I’ll try and work you on to our buying list.  They go quickly so the sooner I know you’re interested the better.

Also at our place we are finishing up our lamb foster care service for the year.  We currently have four lambs left and a few of them are probably ready to go back to their owner, but please don’t tell my wife Karla!

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Our youngest ewe lamb named Annalyssa 

As you can see there are tons of exciting things happening around the area in the agricultural industry.  The excitement has been brewing for a wile and now the time has come to “get to work”.  What a great tie of year!  Please as you see people in the ag industry thank them for feeding your family and be safe when traveling the roads with their equipment.  I hope that everyone has a safe and prosperous spring and may your crop be plentiful and great.

FFA Week

ffa feb 2016

As many people in the agriculture world know, this week is FFA week for the USA and is a great time to publicize and endorse all things FFA.  I was not able to join FFA while in high school because I was involved in too many other great organizations (4-H, sports, youth group, etc)  While in school  I heard so many great things from my classmates who went to Randolph Schools to be taught by Ag Instructor/FFA Advisor Ed Terry.  They were so excited to be able to travel the short distance from Northfield to Randolph to take part in Ag class.  Now as an adult and after marrying into the Hallcock family I became involved with the Randolph FFA Alumni group as a member and have now served on the alumni board since around 2007.  What a great group!

ffa

This week to me though is all about the great instructors and students who take part in the programs across the country.  Here in Minnesota we have so many great FFA programs located through out the state.  Each chapter has it’s own niche and strong point.  One of the major impacts that Randolph has in the community is the Corn Drive for Camp Courage.  During harvest students travel the area visiting farms, gathering donations of either corn or money to go towards Camp Courage.  They have done this for many years and bring in a lot of money for the program.

During the week and every day make sure you show how proud you are to be involved with FFA; whether it be as a student, alumni, parent, or instructor!  There is a lot to be proud of and for one week a year this is the time to show off to the rest of the world!  Below is a challenge for all of you to do on social media:  ffa week

Many of you already use social media each and every day, so why not show off how #FFAProud you are?

Beer Can Chicken

It’s almost the day of the big game, you know the game where you’d rather see the commercials than the actual  football being played?  Yep it’s almost Super Bowl Sunday and why not take a break from the normal chicken wings, cock tail wieners, or chips with dip and make something that will taste great and is a great source of protein.  Today I’m sharing a recipe that many of our customers use to cook our broiler chickens, the Beer Can Chicken!  Wait, you’ve never heard of beer can chicken?  Well let me tell you what, it’s some good eating, great flavor, and you get to do something fun during the cooking, drink beer.

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There are many different variations of this recipe on the internet, so you can either use this one, try a different search for a recipe, or even use a different cooking method like a grill, smoker, or whatever suites your fancy.  Today I’m sharing a recipe that is for a baked chicken.

Here is what’s needed:

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Mix the garlic powder, seasoned salt, onion powder, dried oregano, salt, and ground black pepper in a small bowl; set aside. Pour 1/3 of one can of beer into the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish. Place the open beer can in the center of the baking dish.
  3. Rinse chicken under cold running water. Discard giblets and neck from chicken; drain and pat dry. Fit whole chicken over the open beer can with the legs on the bottom. With the breast of the chicken facing you, use a paring knife to cut a small slit on each side and press the tip of each wing into the slit to encourage even cooking.
  4. Rub the prepared seasoning mixture to taste over the entire chicken. Pat the sliced green onions around the whole chicken evenly. Some will fall into the beer, that’s fine. Press the halved green onions into the top cavity of the chicken. Open the remaining beer and pour 1/2 of it into the pan under then chicken. Reserve the remaining beer.
  5. Bake the chicken in the preheated oven. After 45 minutes, pour remaining beer into the pan under the chicken. Continue baking until no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear, about 30 additional minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone should read 180 degrees F (82 degrees C). Remove the chicken from the oven and discard the beer can. Cover the chicken with a doubled sheet of aluminum foil, and allow to rest in a warm area for 10 minutes before slicing. 

Note: This recipe was a variation of one from stacycd on http://www.allrecipes.com

Please feel free to add or subtract any spices that you may or may not like, it’s totally up to your taste buds.
I hope that you’ll think of trying out this recipe either this weekend or maybe later this year when we have some chickens to sell to you.  I was at the elevator this afternoon and they were telling me to get ready to order my chicks starting in March, I love hearing those words as that means spring is on it’s way!