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Author: Alison

#IHD16 Rookie

#IHD16 Rookie

#IHD16

In mid-August I received an email from Katie Pratt (Illinois Farm Girl) about attending the Illinois Harvest Dinner. To say the least, I was ECSTATIC!  I was at school and couldn’t click reply fast enough.  But then I waited to reply because I didn’t want to comes off as desperate.  Yes, I was THAT girl.  I casually replied a couple hours later and managed to contain my excitement.  Katie co-chairs the event alongside Mary Mackinson Faber from Mackinson Dairy Farm.  They are a pair full of ideas and make a great team.

The Illinois Harvest Dinner is an event that was started in 2015 by a handful of awesome agriculture advocates here in Illinois.  Their ideas blossomed and the second annual dinner did not disappoint.  I recall seeing pictures on social media of the event in 2015 and loved the nostalgic feel of the decorations, atmosphere and interactions with consumers!  From the outside looking in, last year was great.  From the inside, this year was AWESOME!  I was honored to be a part of it from the producer standpoint.  The interactions I had with dietitians, doctors and food service coordinators was nothing short of electric.  They had questions and I had answers based on the things I do on my farm and with my cows.

The table is set

Erin at Grand Vale Co. was there to work her magic through photographs.  If you haven’t seen them, go look now!  They sum up the evening wonderfully. You can also check out her blog post here!

And if the video that was beautifully done by ParkLife Films doesn’t make you want to be a part of this event in the future, I don’t know what will.

 

Yum!What would the Illinois Harvest Dinner be without a menu full of delicious food?  Chef Vince from Cracked Pepper Peoria worked his magic with everything from the delightful hors d’oeuvres to the savory pork chops.  He owns a few restaurants in the Peoria area and after this, I’m a shoe-in for going to each of them SOON!

In addition to my take on the evening, a handful of others weighed in on #IHD16!  Check them out and get excited for Round 3 of the Illinois Harvest Dinner in ’17.  Good conversation.  Good people. Great event. I was honored to represent production agriculture & the beef industry.

Sean Arians – “Supper with Sean & Chef Vince”

Sean Arians – “Supper with Sean & Thomas Titus”

News Herald newspaper in Central Illinois

Article in Prairie Farmer magazine by Holly Spangler

-A

Apple Bread

Apple Bread

I like easy recipes, but unfortunately when someone mentions “homemade bread”, easy is NOT the first word that usually comes to mind.  Alert….this is not a trick.  If you like apples and you like bread, this recipe will become a staple!  It’s quick, does not require any special ingredients (that is never in the cupboard when you need it) and yummy.  It’s bread and who doesn’t love bread?

When my husband and I started dating more than 10 years ago, several locals asked me if I had tried his Mom’s apple bread.  I casually replied, “Um, no.  Should I?”  Of course the answer was always YES.  I had no idea.  I grew up learning from a handful of the best bakers this side of the Mississippi, but to my knowledge they had never made apple bread.  Apple cake, yes.  Apple dumplings, sure.  Applesauce, occasionally.  Apple salad, most definitely.  She was well known in the whole county for this recipe and it didn’t take long for me to understand why.  Deliciousness!  I also realized that my future husband had a major sweet tooth for the apple bread batter (I will let you find out for yourself)!

So here’s the scoop…

The most crucial step is selecting an apple variety that is appropriate for baking.  There are several and if I told you I always use the same variety, I’d be lying.  Jonathan, JonaGold and JonaRed are my go to varieties, but there are many others that are just as good for baking purposes.  Also, don’t hesitate mixing varieties within the same recipe.  If they are good baking, the bread will turn out delicious anyway.  I purchase the majority of my apples (in season) from Camp’s Orchard because it right around the corner from my house!  The local grocery store often has “local” apples that are grown somewhere in the state or region.  Those will be just fine for this as well. Don’t be scared.

img_2498The rest is pretty simple and WAY easier than what you may think when it comes to bread recipes.  Other ingredients include vegetable oil, eggs, sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda and vanilla.  And I cannot forget the sugar sprinkled on top of the batter before baking.  I usually let it cool for about an hour and then take it out of the pan to cut up.  The best part about this recipes is that it yields two loaves of bread!

I hope you enjoy this as much as my family does.

-A

 

Apple Bread

Ingredients

1 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs, beaten

2 cups sugar

3 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp vanilla

3-4 cups apples, chopped

Sugar to sprinkle on top

Instructions

Mix oil, eggs and sugar together well.  Add flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda and vanilla and mix well.  Gently stir in chopped apples.  Divide into two loaf pans.  Sprinkle sugar on top of each.  Bake at 325 for 1 hour.

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Granny’s Chicken Salad

Granny’s Chicken Salad

The title says everything.  I do not need to go into detail about Granny and her amazing chicken salad.  Just take my word for it. Let’s cut right to the chase….

  1. Start with a whole uncooked chicken or an oven roasted chicken you picked up at the store or grilled chicken strips or whatever kind of chicken you prefer.  The point is you need some chicken!  If I have time (haha) I will cook it myself otherwise it’s HyVee oven roasted chicken to go!
  2. Buy some Teasoning. Now. (See pictures below)
  3. Get some mayonnaise.  Chicken salad is non-existent without mayo.
  4. Go buy some yummy yeasty goodness at the local bakery (aka croissant, hoagie roll, rye bread, etc.)
  5. Enjoy!

This is my go-to chicken salad recipe and I make it for wedding showers, birthday parties, state fair lunch at the camper and just because.

My first “foodie” picture from way back when – chicken salad ironically!
Good luck finding this! I googled it & got a lot of strange results. I buy it at the little gift shop in my hometown.
Distributed by Herbal House
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Granny’s Chicken Salad

Prep Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

< id="zlrecipe-ingredients-list">< id="zlrecipe-ingredient-0" class="ingredient" itemprop="ingredients">1 whole chicken < id="zlrecipe-ingredient-1" class="ingredient" itemprop="ingredients">Mayonnaise (to desired creaminess) < id="zlrecipe-ingredient-2" class="ingredient" itemprop="ingredients">Teasoning (to desired flavor) < id="zlrecipe-ingredient-3" class="ingredient" itemprop="ingredients">Grapes < id="zlrecipe-ingredient-4" class="ingredient" itemprop="ingredients">Pecans or almonds (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cut chicken up and remove bones.
  2. Chop up or put into a food processor.
  3. Add mayonnaise according to how creamy you prefer.
  4. Add teasoning to taste.
  5. Cut up grapes and add desired amount.
  6. Chop pecans and add desired amount.
  7. Chill and serve on a croissant, hoagie roll, etc.
http://www.outsidetheagroom.com/2016/07/grannys-chicken-salad/

Star Spangled Fruit Pizza

Star Spangled Fruit Pizza

It’s Independence Day and who wouldn’t love a yummy patriotic themed fruit pizza?  Try this recipe and I promise you won’t be disappointed.  It is one I got off a box of Philadelphia Cream Cheese several years ago and it’s delicious.  Just so happens that I haven’t had time to make this yet, so naturally I have no pictures.  Kraft for the win!

You can use a round or rectangle cookie sheet – which could be fun to do an American flag with.  I recommend using parchment paper so you have no issues with it sticking and ruining the crust of your pizza.   You can definitely serve this directly off the pizza pan or cookie sheet you bake it on, but if you are going for presentation then you will need to invert the pan onto a platter so you don’t have to move it around once you start frosting/decorating. Be careful!

If you want this to be a tad bit healthier and skip the cream cheese, a healthier option is this (and it’s fantastic):

Stupid Good Fruit Dip (originally a Weight Watchers recipe: 1/4 cup = 1 point)

32 oz. fat free vanilla yogurt

2 packages fat free/sugar free instant pudding (cheesecake or white chocolate)

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Star Spangled Fruit Pizza

Ingredients

< id="zlrecipe-ingredients-list">< id="zlrecipe-ingredient-0" class="ingredient" itemprop="ingredients">1 pkg. (16.5 oz.) refrigerated sliceable sugar cookies, sliced < id="zlrecipe-ingredient-1" class="ingredient" itemprop="ingredients">1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened < id="zlrecipe-ingredient-2" class="ingredient" itemprop="ingredients">1/4 cup sugar < id="zlrecipe-ingredient-3" class="ingredient" itemprop="ingredients">1/2 tsp. vanilla < id="zlrecipe-ingredient-4" class="ingredient" itemprop="ingredients">1 cup sliced strawberries < id="zlrecipe-ingredient-5" class="ingredient" itemprop="ingredients">2/3 cup blueberries < id="zlrecipe-ingredient-6" class="ingredient" itemprop="ingredients">2/3 cup raspberries < id="zlrecipe-ingredient-7" class="ingredient" itemprop="ingredients">1/2 cup blackberries

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 375°F.
  2. Line 12-inch pizza pan with parchment paper
  3. Place cookie dough slices in single layer on bottom of prepared pan; press to completely cover bottom of pan.
  4. Bake 14 min. or until edge is lightly browned; cool completely.
  5. Invert cookie crust onto platter; carefully remove parchment paper.
  6. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with mixer until blended; spread onto crust.
  7. Top with berries.
  8. Refrigerate 2 hours.
http://www.outsidetheagroom.com/2016/07/star-spangled-fruit-pizza/

 

Easy Peasy Guacamole

Easy Peasy Guacamole

A few years ago, I accidentally discovered I loved guacamole.  Not the boring, buy in the store, plain Jane kind.  The kind you get in a gigantic bowl at a Mexican restaurant and pay an arm and a leg for.  Yes, that kind AND my kind.  I also love pico de gallo and have an easy “recipe” for that too!  It’s so easy, I make it when we are camping at the state fair…(two thumbs WAY up)!

So on to the easy peasy guacamole part of this post!  This is my first food post because mainly I NEVER take pictures of food and that is a big deal when it comes to blogging about what you cook/bake.  But, I am working on it.  I love to cook (on my own terms) and bake!  If you follow me on Pinterest, I have a board titled “In my second life I’m going to be a cake & cookie decorator (and wedding planner…).  Awesomeness, but let’s be real, it’ll never happen.

The Goods!For starters, you need to purchase your ingredients and be sure to be selective about your avocados!  It’s a big deal, trust me.  I will be up front with you and tell you that I am really kind of winging this recipe.  I have NO clue how many avocados it takes to feed 5 hungry people guacamole.  I am the only person in my house that eats it.  It’s so easy, I make it for myself.  It is only easy if you select good avocados though.  If you plan to make the guacamole within a day or so, BUY SOFT AVOCADOS.  I usually buy 4 or 5 and that makes approximately 2(ish) cups of guacamole.  If you have never peeled an avocado, I recommend watching this real quick video.  You can’t really screw it up, but you can have a huge mess that could have been avoided.  Moral? Watch the video or Google it.

Once you have peeled the avocados, cut them up and put into a bowl to mash.  I have used the Pampered Chef Mix ‘N Chop and the Mix ‘N Masher before and they both work great.  In my opinion, a fork wasn’t cutting it (literally)!  (Side note: the Mix ‘N Chop is AMAZING for lots of things – hamburger, mashing strawberries, etc.)

You’ve got the avocados mashed.  At this point you should be able to decide if the amount is sufficient for your hungry crowd. You can then start adding in the necessities.  Not all guacamole has tomatoes, onions, cilantro, etc. in it, but the best guacamole I ever had was at a Mexican restaurant in St. Louis and it had it those ingredients in it.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. The plain guacamole is boring.  This is like a guacamole-pico de gallo mixture and it’s magical!

From here on out, it is a lot of personal preference based on what your taste buds are telling you.  I add about 1/2 cup of diced tomatoes (fresh, not canned), 1/4 cup of chopped red onion and then a random amount of cilantro (maybe about 1/8 cup or so). In my opinion, the red onion is the way to go.  I have made it before with a sweet white onion and it wasn’t anything to brag about. Cilantro 1After you’ve wiped your tears from cutting up the red onion, you can prep for the mess of the cilantro.  It is SO worth it though. You need to either pull the leaves off the stem with your finger or if you have a herb stripper thingy on the end of your kitchen shears like I do, use that!  Once you have a piles of cilantro leaves, start chopping away.  I use the Pampered Chef Coated Santoku Knife.  I just start cutting it in 50 different directions until they are all chopped up.  Your cutting mat/board will be green and you will be cleaning up pieces of cilantro for at least an hour afterwards.  It’s fine.  Just do what my kids and husband do – sweep it on the floor!  That’s another blog post on another day….

Chopped cilantroStep #21…or wait is it #7?  I lost track.  Heck, I’m not keeping track.  Either way, you should now have mashed avocados, tomatoes, red onion and cilantro in your bowl.  Go ahead and mix that up if you haven’t already.  And taste a bit too.  It probably needs something else.

Sea salt is next and it will make or break this concoction.  Do a little at a time, mix and then taste.  Guacamole that is too salty is terrible.  Once you get the amount you desire, mix it again.  If you wanna add more stuff, add more stuff.

Last, but not least squeeze the juice from a whole lime into this mixture and then stir it up again.  Better taste it again to make sure the salt is still suitable for your liking.  If so, you are done!  Disclaimer about this – it will not keep in the refrigerator for more than one day.  Well, it might, but it will turn a brownish color.  I never really have this problem though.  It doesn’t last that long!  By the way, I love Pampered Chef products, but am in no way, shape or form endorsed or paid by them!  🙂

Dive In

Easy Peasy Guacamole

4-5 soft avocados

1/2 cup diced tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped red onions

1/8 cup chopped cilantro

1 lime

Sea salt to taste

  1. Peel avocados and cut up.  Cut up and place in a bowl and start mashing.
  2. Add tomatoes and red onion and mix again.
  3. Remove leaves off stems of cilantro and start chopping.
  4. Add to the guacamole mixture and mix together.
  5. Add sea salt to taste.
  6. Squeeze the juice from a whole lime into the mixture.  Mix and taste.  Add more salt if necessary.
  7. Serve immediately or chilled with chips.

 

Thanks for reading!

-Alison

Kids, Cows, Clothes & Cooking

Kids, Cows, Clothes & Cooking

If you follow along with my not-so-frequent blog posts at all, you may have noticed that things look a tad different.  Change is good and thanks to some advice from my friends Brandi (Buzzard’s Beat) and Bekah (Cooped Up Creativity), I made the leap into WordPress land.  Peace out Blogger.  It was a good run.  More about that later, I suppose!

Maybe the title intrigued you; it intrigued me too.  It also has caused me to exhaust ALL possible resources available to me at this time (i.e. ample sleep, proper nourishment, clean socks, etc.).  As some may know, I am the wife of a seed/chemical/fertilizer salesman.  It’s spring in Illinois, which takes you back to the title.  No how-to blog posts here other than the annual “how to just keep your head above water” shenanigans.

Each of the four parts of the title are meaningful at this point and time in my life.  Ha…keep reading! 🙂

I will just say that if it wasn’t for our swing set and the battery operated John Deere Gator & tractor, I would have lost my mind already.  I managed to get decent shoes and a jacket on them when it was cool and to top that off.  If it is any consolation, they did have clean clothes when they left the house.  Once we survived the great what-do-I-get-for-snack debate, I was finally outside and ready to start chores.  It’s April and our small amount of acreage on our farm is at maximum capacity.  No seriously.  There is no room in the inn for about another month.  We have 3 more cows left to calve and I feel their pain.  Please just lay down, have that calf and you can be on your way to greener pastures – literally!

In addition to general craziness, we decided to change our breeding program up a little this year.  Instead of putting CIDR’s in the heifers & cows we were going to AI, we are AI’ing strictly off of heat detection.  For anyone that knows ANYTHING at all about checking heats in any livestock species, you realize this is time consuming.  And with that I am officially crazy.  Estrotect patches are fabulous by the way.  By now, you are are probably starting to figure out where the other three parts of the title relate….

 

The rest should fall in place pretty easily.  As long as everyone has clean underwear and actually wears said clean underwear, everything else will be fine.  As long as those silly heifers and that gomer bull (if you don’t know – look it up – you’ll thank me) don’t get out, everything will be fine.  If they go into the barn without little effort by me so I can breed them and send them on their merry way, everything will be fine.  If the kids are somewhat clean when they go to bed and have a full belly, everything else will be just fine.  If Ted, the bottle calf gets his belly full then everything will be just fine.  And if we can go to bed and wake up refreshed and blessed, everything will be just fine.

Lord knows there are people with WAY bigger issues than whether or not my heifers are bred and my kids teeth are brushed, but here’s to hoping whatever those other issues are that you don’t forget to smile & laugh! 🙂

 

sprayer rides

farm girl

 

 

A visit from a friend….

A visit from a friend….

In mid January, we welcomed a new friend to our farm. Flat Aggie, as she prefers to be called, came to Illinois ready to learn about the beef cattle on our farm.  Man, was she in for a surprise!  My children – Payton (6) and Nolan (3) were very excited to teach her about our cows.


The weather has been VERY mild so far this winter.  That has its pros and cons.  The cons = MUD! When Flat Aggie arrived, we had just started calving.  Calving is the process of a cow having a baby. A baby cow is called a calf and there are few things cuter than a newborn calf!  On our farm, we try very hard to walk through our cows every night to figure out which cows are closest to calving. Those cows that are close get put in the barn for the night.  They each have their own pen that is bedded down with fresh straw and alfalfa hay for them to munch on.  After the first couple times of going into the barn, they get very used to it and before we know it they all want in!  Flat Aggie was a big help when it came to cleaning those pens every night.  My son Nolan showed her what to do!

On our farm there is always something that needs to be done.  Although this is a busy time for our mama cows, we still have others to take care of.  Our replacement heifers are heifers that were born between January 2015 and March 2015.  A heifer is a female cow that has not had a baby.  Instead of selling them, we keep them and feed them through the winter.  Once they become old enough, they will replace older cows in the herd and eventually have babies of their own.  A herd is a group of cattle.  We also have bulls that we must continue to take care of.  A bull is an uncastrated male cow.  One of things we must continue to do for our cattle is provide them with minerals and salt to keep them growing and healthy.  When Payton and Nolan got distracted while helping me haul mineral around in the their wagon, Flat Aggie was a big help.  She even met a new friend….

In the two pictures above, Flat Aggie is standing by the mineral feeder.  This is what the salt and mineral goes into.  The cows lift the rubber top up with their nose and lick up whatever they want! Yum! 

As I mentioned before, it is calving time on our farm.  Flat Aggie got to be up close and personal for the birth of a little heifer calf.  Her mama is yellow tag #13 and is probably the friendliest cow we have.  She is always sneaking up behind us to sniff or lick our shirt or coat.  We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of her calf and I am so glad Flat Aggie was there to witness it.

We always hope that every cow will have a calf without problems.  Unfortunately that does not always happen.  Since Flat Aggie got to our farm, the weather has changed and it is very cold.  When heifers get ready to have their first calf, it is often hard to figure out how close they actually are. Needless to say there are certain cases when a heifer shows no signs of getting ready to have a calf and therefore she may not be in the barn. And she may decide to have it in the mud or when it is very cold out or even when a storm is coming! This happened to us the other day when it was cold and the windchill was near 10 degrees.  Most cows will immediately beginning smelling their newborn calf and then start cleaning it off.  This particular heifer had the calf outside.  She did not clean it off because she was not done calving.  Shortly thereafter she had another calf.  One calf was less fortunate than the other and died during birth.  When my husband got home she had just had the second one.  He quickly went and got the first calf, called me to hurry home and then took the calf in the house.  I keep spare towels and sheets, as well as an old hair dryer on hand for this reason (see The Truth About Calving…Beef Cattle)!  
Payton, Flat Aggie and I milked the cow out so we could get the initial colostrum to the calf – who was still warming up in the kitchen!!  Colostrum is the first secretion from the mammary glands after giving birth which is rich in antibodies necessary for the calf to get going in the early hours of it’s life. 

Photo Credit: Payton 🙂
Within three hours or so, we were able to get the little bull calf alert enough to go back to the barn with his mama.  She had very little milk and we had to supplement with some colostrum replacer for him to get some nourishment. He is still receiving a little bit of milk replacer while his mother’s milk starts producing.

The excitement will continue on our beef farm for a long time after Flat Aggie is gone, but we hope she can visit again someday!  She was a busy girl at our place and we enjoyed having her.  I think she may have learned enough she could raise her own beef cows!  
Thanks to A Kansas Farm Mom for the opportunity to host Flat Aggie and tell our beef story.  We had a blast!
Beef Resources….

Farmer Math

The Truth About Calving…Beef Cattle

The Truth About Calving…Beef Cattle

Yellow5 Bull Calf
In the midst of calving season and really any other time of the year – the dairy industry is often the focus of consumer questions and concerns.  The beef industry often flies under the radar.  With the buzz word being TRANSPARENCY, flying under the radar is not always ideal.
I love taking pictures, especially pictures of my cattle (cows, bulls, and calves alike) and, of course, my kids!  A picture is worth a thousand words and this picture below is no different.
P and the kitchen calf
This little black-white faced heifer calf was born outside on a sub-zero February morning. Her mother, a first time mother no less, showed no signs of being close to calving the night before (hence the reason she was born outside).  Right off the bat, during morning chores and calving checks, my husband noticed her.  I was inside getting ready to go to work and I hear the truck back up to the door and moments later I had a newborn calf on my kitchen floor.  And just like that my super soft, but worn out king size sheets were being used to warm up this little icicle of a babe.  My blow dryer that was on it’s last leg was getting a workout.  Her little ears were frozen and just like humans – 5 minutes in sub-zero temperatures – can become frostbit.  I dried, my daughter dried, I dried again and we kept taking turns.  After about an hour inside, this little sweetie was back in the barn with her mother & ready to take on the world. She needed a little extra help nursing for the first time and getting that ever so important colostrum into her system.
Up to this point, this whole process may sound very similar or almost identical to a dairy operation!  Our beef cattle operation is called a cow-calf operation.  Point in case.  A cow is a female bovine that has birthed a calf.  The cows on our farm range in age from 3 – 15 years old.  The goal of our operation is for our cows to produce calves that will yield high quality meat cuts that are in demand in the marketplace.  We keep the top 10% of our heifers for replacement heifers – replacing older cows or cows that have slacked off on raising a calf.  While providing our customers with high quality beef is very important to us, it is equally important that the animals we raise are done so humanely and live a quality life on our farm.  When explaining to others how we go through our “heavy bred” pen every night during calving season to determine which cows need to be put in the barn for the night, some may say that we are babying them.  Some statements made have been such as, “A good cow that is bred right should be able to have a calf unassisted” or “if you help them all the time they will never try to have a calf on their own”.  My immediate response to these comments is always that every operation is different and every producer can run his/her operation the way he or she sees fit! Which is exactly what we do.  My husband and I both have full-time jobs off the farm, therefore our operation is more like a hobby.  It takes up just as much time as our jobs do, but we love every second of it. One calf makes a HUGE difference!  Hence, the reason why we put cows that are close to calving inside at night.
 
Full Barn
 
We typically wean our calves when they are between 6-8 months old.  This is different than a dairy operation.  Dairy operations maintain only females on the farm and cows must continue producing milk even after having a calf.  For the safety of dairy calves, they are weaned off within 3-10 hours after calving for safety purposes.  This is where beef operations and dairy operations are different.  In order for beef cattle to grow and eventually produce high quality meat cuts, they must thrive as a calf still nursing, begin consuming small amounts of feed as they get older and then eventually be weaned when they are old to “take care of themselves” and strictly consume grain and/or forage!  A beef calf that is older than 9 months old and still nursing from it’s mother is really doing more harm to the cow than good!  Cows still nursing older calves will begin to lose weight and their overall body condition is poor because that calf is essentially “sucking the life out of them”!  It will take longer for that cow to get back to her optimum body condition after nursing a calf for too long.
 
Long story short, CATTLE operations – dairy or beef – have one goal in mind…care for animals in a humane and ethical fashion and, of course, feed the world! As always, if you have questions about how your food is produced, please Ask the Farmers!
Favorite Time of the Year, #calfwatch16

Favorite Time of the Year, #calfwatch16

Call me crazy, but for some reason I enjoy the craziness of calving on our farm.  Craziness of waking up to do night checks, craziness of having to clean the barn every night, craziness of not eating until late, craziness of grouchy kids (mainly our 6 year old daughter) and the list goes on.

Yea, so it’s a bit crazy right now.  We are just about ready to enter our “window”.  Yes, the window of calving.  If you aren’t familiar with beef cattle and the reproduction and breeding practices; the “window” is the time frame they are expected to have a calf.  This year, on our farm, we artificially inseminated (AI) our heifers to calve on or near January 28th.  This is a timed AI protocol that brings the heifers (or cows) into their heat cycle using a CIDR and medicine.  If we had unlimited time and didn’t work full-time jobs off the farm, we would AI our cows based off of standing heat. Unfortunately, not all of our heifers were AI bred.  And so we wait…
We AI or put embryos in our top 8%(ish) of cows.  The five cows we put embryos in were due to calve today – February 2nd.  As of right now, we have one ET calf that is 5 days old.  The only other one that settled is very close….hopefully tonight.  I checked her 2 times in the middle of the night last night and both times she was as cool as a cucumber chewing her cud.  Whatever sis!  
The rest of our cows are turned out with one of our herd bulls!  They are due to calve anytime between March 1 and April 15.  A guessing game for sure.  If you follow me on Instagram (@amcgrew8342), you may recall a photo of two (very) premature calves that a cow aborted in late November.  Back to the guessing game.  We took 6 cows/heifers to the vet to be checked to determine if they were pregnant and if so, how far along they were.  We did this because we were certain one of them was the one that aborted the twins.  It would be easy they said.  Surely it is not that hard to figure out which cow aborted they said.  Ha.  
Back to the crazy thing.  I enjoy every second of it.  I especially enjoy it right now because it is very mild for an Illinois winter.  Like 35-43 degree mild!!!! Awesome minus the fact that this mild temperature swing equals mud.  Lots of mud.  I have no mudroom people.  And my kitchen is right inside the back door.  It would be best to just pray for me.  🙂 Our time is coming and old man winter will smack me in the face….with negative temps! 
Be watching for the Flat Aggie blog post soon!  She has been visiting our farm for about a month…and learning A LOT! 😉 

Heavy bred pen view from our barn camera!

#CITC15 Rookie Season – Gift Reveal

#CITC15 Rookie Season – Gift Reveal

So as the title reads, this is my rookie Christmas In The Country – #CITC15! I had a blast doing this and made some friends over social media in the process. So as the details of the exchange state, investigate your person on social media and get them something with meaning. If anyone has looked at any of my social media accounts – especially Pinterest – it should not be hard at all to figure me out. My secret Santa was Leann Martin. Leann’s blog is called The Purple Martin and although I have never met Leann – I think we would get a long just fine. She loves a good road trip and rodeo. She’s also an everyday advocate for agriculture, just like me. Recently, The Pioneer Woman came out with a line of kitchen STUFF. I love it, but really don’t have any need to go buy all new pots and dishes. I can remember seeing some of the products online and in Walmart. The pieces that caught my eye were the depression glass looking dishes. My Grandma Alice collects depression glass and has given my sister and I several pieces. When I saw these, I fell in love and tried to think of uses for them – or at least a way to justify buying several. 🙂

Isn’t that just the cutest little dish ever?  Leann had it full of Hershey’s Kisses.  Oh yes she did – ha! She also sent me a bar of Shoo-Fly Soap Company‘s Honeysuckle & Vanilla.  Aaaahhhh!  It smells like heaven.  I love handmade soaps.  Ironic because I sent my partner, Jess Tracey, some handmade soap goodies from my friend Erica of The Dirty Goat!   They, too, are AMAZING.  As you can tell, Leann knocked it out of the park.  I love the dish, I love chocolate and I love handmade soaps! Win, win.  
As I mentioned above, I had the pleasure of shopping for Jess.  She is an ag teacher from Ohio and I debated whether or not to focus on her sense of style per her Pinterest page or her passion for teaching ag.  I decided to go the FFA route and buy her a bangle bracelet with an owl and inital “J” charm.  I almost bought one for myself!!  I also sent her some handmade soaps/scrubs (duh!) and an owl Wallflower with Spiced Cider scent.  I mean, you are usually pretty safe when gifting owl things to an ag teacher.  Mission accomplished.  I got a surprise thank you gift from Jess in the mail the other day – she knows me well apparently;  she sent me one of her FFA chapter’s T-shirts.  #winning

I really, really enjoyed my first Christmas In The Country exchange and I really look forward to the next one!  Thank you a hundred times to the organizers of this lovely “event”…..Laurie at Country LINKed, Jamie at This Uncharted Rhoade, Kirby at 15009 Farmhouse and Lara at My Other More Exciting Self.  Ya’ll knocked it out of the park 🙂 
Christmas in the Country 2015