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

 

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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?

Christmas in the Country- A Lil Fun!

Greetings internet world from our little farm here in Randolph, MN!  As I get better at this whole “blogging” thing I have learned that there is a huge network of great bloggers on everything agricultural related in Minnesota and through out the United States.  As a part of this network, I decided to take part in Christmas in the Country Gift Exchange 2015.

As a part of that gift exchange, each person in that exchange buys a gift for a blogger that we are selected.  I was given Jenny Schweigert who runs a site called The Magic Farm House I found out that she enjoys cooking and decided that who wouldn’t want a cookbook full of great recipes from Minnesota?  So I decided to get her the Minnesota Hotdish cookbook.  I hope she enjoys the recipes in it and has fun cooking them for her family.

The best part about being in this gift exchange was receiving a package from a Rebekah Gustafson in Wisconsin.  It was a rather large package and I was pretty excited to open it up and see what was inside!  This is what I found!

20151215_162143Merry Christmas to me!  What a great box full of goodies; from the nice tape measure, fun new games (Farkle and For Get It) which got played a lot during family Christmas get together, the toy John Deere tractor, large beer mug, and last but definitely not least, the thermal socks.  Now for those of you that know me well can get a good chuckle out of the socks.  Although my prosthetic feet and legs may get cold, I really can’t feel it, so it really made me laugh when I saw them in the box.  Rebekah, I hope you don’t mind me re-gifting these socks to my dad who may get a little more use out of them?!

Thank you Rebekah for the great and thoughtful gifts; I look forward to keeping up with your blog Cooped Up Creativity and finding out more about your family, and farm.  What a great way this exchange has been to find new “friends” via the internet and share the Christmas spirit with others across the U.S.A.

A great big thank you to the Lara Duban from My Other Exciting Self who does a great job coordinating Christmas in the Country.  #CITC2015

I look forward to doing this again next year and encourage others to try it for themselves.

Have a great day,

Brian – Lil Ass Farm

 

 

Bountiful Harvest

As I try to weed through all of the blog posts, social media rants, and issues with Subway restaurants newest take on antibiotics and not using meat from animals treated with antibiotics I have come to some realizations.

First as a nation we are very lucky to have the choice of when, where, and who we want to buy our food from.  If I want to buy all organic foods I have that choice, gluten-free – yes, locally raised vegetables – you bet.  There are countless different grocery stores, markets, CSA’s, farms, etc that we can choose to buy our food from.  Now some of these options cost more than others and that price simply takes certain customers out of the equation.  Either way there are many different markets for us to get our groceries and meals.

This year through out Minnesota we have been very lucky with our growing season and harvest.  The fall harvest of corn and soybeans has been great with perfect weather conditions leading to great yields and there for providing us with an over abundance of materials for the consumer.  The biggest draw back with this large harvest and increased yields leads to a supply and demand issue.  Too much supply leads to a low demand and gives us lower prices (thanks to my Macro and Micro Economics professors at South Dakota State University that engraved this in my head).  Hopefully the abundance will lead to new opportunities to export our grains to other countries.

Now back to the main issue for me; if Subway wants to not buy meat from farmers that raise their livestock using antibiotics I take offense and it’s also a bit misleading.  Farmers and ranchers use antibiotics to treat and prevent disease in livestock and lets them eat and utilize feed better.  Also ALL meat sold in the U.S. is technically antibiotic free as there are withdrawals on livestock antibiotics before they can be sold to harvest.  What I believe Subway is trying to say is that they don’t plan on buying meat from farmers who have used any antibiotics on their animals.  Although some farmers choose that way of tending to their livestock the majority of commercial farmers do use them and for good reasons

antibiotics

I just find it hard to support a company that doesn’t support your average farm; it doesn’t matter if it’s Chipotle, Panera Bread, Subway, or what ever the given chain might be.  I

With that said, we all have a need for sustenance, no matter what you want to eat we are blessed to live in a nation where we do have choice.  Count your blessings and be thankful for the bountiful harvest that we’ve had in 2015 and think of those in other places who are not so lucky.  When it all comes down to it we are very lucky to have what we need.

Please consider following this blog and leaving a comment, I’m interested in hearing from other people on what they feel on this subject and everything else to do with agriculture.

Thanks,

Brian

Straw Bale Gardening

This summer I decided to try out a new option for growing vegetables, it’s called straw bale gardening.  I heard about this from my mother-in-law who told me that I should try this out.  I did some reading up on it online and found that it’s a new and easy way to plant your garden.  In past years I have used my raised bed garden which is 4 feet tall by 6 feet long and it works great for me to be able to pull right up beside it in my wheel chair and either work from my chair or stand up and use the garden to hold onto while I stand, another way to do some physical therapy.

Raised garden from 2014

Pictured above is a photo of what my raised garden bed looked like last year.  The only big problem I have with this garden is that when I plant tomatoes, zucchini, or anything else with a long vine it tends to take over the garden.  That is why this year I bought six “Better Boy” tomato plants and planted them into two straw bales.

The best place I found on the internet to read about straw bale gardening was at www.strawbalegardens.com  On this site they give some links to articles about the gardens and also will give you an option to buy a book on this concept.  I didn’t buy the book, but it does look interesting.  Another good place to see pictures and hear from others who are planting these gardens is going to Facebook and “liking” the Learn to Grow a Straw Bale Gardens page. https://www.facebook.com/learntogrowastrawbalegarden?fref=ts

Back to planting the tomato plants; what I did was found two straw bales and let them get “conditioned” outdoors for a month before I was ready for them to be planted.  Conditioning means that you are letting the rain break down the bales and making the straw easier to contend with.  They also say that you should put some Miracle Grow or other type of plant food onto the bale for a while and let the rain wash the food into the bale.  Now if you’re not getting rain you’ll have to water the bales yourself, but this year that has not been a problem as of yet.  A week ago I bought my tomatoes and took a small garden spade and dug a 3 slits into each bale and put the one plant into each hole.

One of my straw bales

Then I took some potting soil and helped fill in the hole where there was still space.  As of yesterday the plants were still looking a bit rough, but I used the Facebook page to ask a few questions and they told me to add some more plant food to the plants so hopefully this will work.

Large straw bale Garden

Pictured above is a superb looking straw bale garden that a farmer posted to the Facebook page, so obviously it does work well.

I’m in no way a veteran at doing this and if you want to do a straw bale garden for yourself I suggest that you read up on it more before planting anything.  I hope that it works out well for me and I’m able to produce lots of tomatoes for my homemade salsa and maybe my mother-in-law Rozetta will make some more of her awesome spaghetti sauce!  I will update you as the growing season goes on and if you try this out please let me know how it goes.

Where’s the beef?!

May is beef month in many states of the U.S. including Minnesota. Beef month doesn’t meet hug your nearest cow, although if you do, proceed with caution.  No actually it’s a month where farmers, ranchers, consumers, and everyone who likes beef or it’s many bi-products should celebrate the commodity.

steak

As I sat contemplating what to write about beef and the wonderful qualities that it offers, I thought, what’s there not to like about beef?  Not only if cooked properly does it taste great, it is healthy too, providing 25 grams of protein in a 3 oz serving (about the size of a deck of cards or a hockey puck)   Beef’s internal temperature to eat must be at 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Here is a great image from http://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/beefsbig10.aspx showing the benefits of eating this meat:

10 reasons why beef is so healthy
10 reasons why beef is so healthy

Whether you enjoy a steak, hamburger, roast, or another beef product you’ll get a great value for your serving and it will taste great.  Now I know many of you are thinking that it’s been so expensive to buy lately.  Have you considered filling up your freezer by buying a quarter of an animal from a farmer?  Some markets will even sell bundles or “baskets” of products that aren’t as big as a quarter of beef.  This can be a better value and won’t take up as much room in your freezer.  This option does cost more money up front, but will save you some cash in the end.

In order to get your meat on the table there are many people to thank along the way.  The farmers and ranchers who raise the cattle work hard 365 days a year to put that food on your table.  There are many different types of cattle operations out there including; cow-calf, seedstock (purebred or registered cow-calf herds), stockers, and feedlots.  Each of these operations work in different ways, but all strive for one goal, to provide safe and great tasting food for your table.  After the farm operations cattle go to be harvested and processed.  In these facilities there are many different jobs and tasks that are completed.  Did you know that 98% of the beef animal is used when it is processed?  That’s a pretty high percentage that is use able and able to be sold.  Make sure to thank your local beef herds-person for working so hard to provide you with a safe product.

Beef at water tank

There are also many great fun facts about beef including:

  • Cattle produce about 25 billion pounds of meat each year
  • The combined value of the cattle and beef industry is around $200 billion
  • The hide from one cow can make 144 baseballs, 20 footballs or 12 basketballs.
  • On average calves are born weighing 70-80 lbs
  • Cows have four stomach compartments; rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum

Facts courtesy of http://beef2live.com/story-cattle-101-hist-breeds-fun-facts-terms-0-104671

Hopefully this post will give you some more reasons to eat beef and knowing more about the food that you’re feeding your family.  Until next time be safe, eat well, and thank a farmer for providing you with a full stomach!