Dirt Road Charm

Motherhood, Agriculture, and everything in between

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What Do Farmers REALLY Do All Winter You Ask?

What do farmers really do all winter?  Great question!!!  I have the unique opportunity with my job to meet with farmers and ranchers from all sizes and spectrum's be it 50 acres to 10,000 acres, beef to dairy to grain only.  With the diversity that I see on a daily basis I figured I had a great opportunity to share with you what these people actually do in the winter! 

I found it interesting that while I was out taking pictures and was talking with these producers many of them feel that the average American that has no ties to agriculture believes that they do nothing all winter but vacation and live in Florida. Well I reassured them that we will let the truth out!

I have been in Agriculture my whole life so I naturally married a farmer (shocking I know).  I can tell you first hand that I really only have a husband from December through February.  The rest of the time is spent in the field or working on equipment to get them in the field and keep them there.  It starts with Planting season.  Around March they will bring all the equipment in and get it ready to hit the fields to plant the crops in the ground.  From there you start cutting and baling hay.  Then it is time to harvest wheat and then bale up the straw.  In the meantime you are continually cutting hay and before you know it its time for harvest in the fall when the corn and soybeans are taken off.   After harvest you clean up all the equipment and get it ready to be put away for the winter.  whew.

With that being said the 3 months of winter may be used to slow down a little for some producers (not all) and spend more time with family.  So back to what they do all winter.....

Some guys use the winter to expand the operation.   When you run out of room many times it involves putting up more bins or buildings
Here is a new building that will be used as a maintenance shop and the old building can now be used as storage for equipment.  Storage is very important for these producers because when machinery is left out all winter and in the elements parts and pieces wear out quicker due to weathering and rust.
As stated before winter is a time for many producers to bring equipment in and prepare it for spring planting.  Here is a planter that one of my customers had in their shop going through to make sure it was up to par.
Now not all farmers are strictly grain farmers.  For beef and dairy producers the work really doesn't stop through the winter.  Beef producers are preparing for calving in the early part of winter and then calving gets heavy in later part of winter.  With calving comes calf checks.  Many people will get up every couple hours to go check on cows that have shown signs of calving.   This makes for long nights but a live calf in the end makes it all worth it.

Sometimes you even have instances where the mother has an injury and the vet comes out to do a C-section to save the calf.  If the mother doesn't make it then it is up to the producer to become the new mommy.  Here is a prime example of a calf that was born 3 weeks early do to a spinal injury to the mother.  The calf was placed under a heat lamp with a blanket to keep it warm and is bottle fed 3 times a day to get it healthy and strong to join the rest of the herd.

When things go right the calf will drink from the mom with no problems!  That is what we aim for
Dairy Farmers:  these people I give major props to!  A dairy farmers work is really never ending.  It doesn't matter what time of year it is the cows need milked everyday multiple times a day.  Winter is really no different than any other time of the year except the winter can make things much more difficult with freezing temps and slippery ice.

The parlor doesn't shut down just because it is winter.  These normally run around the clock with some down time to wash and sanitize.

Both beef and dairy cattle need fed everyday.  Beef cattle that are normally out to pasture now need fed in the winter because all the grass is under snow (at least in the Midwest that is the case :) and dairy cattle normally get fed 2 or more times a day.  Work doesn't stop just because it is winter.

This is just a little of what goes on over winter for producers but gives you an idea that they are not just hanging out at home in front of the TV with their feet kicked up waiting for spring to arrive!

Until next time.........

Monday, February 4, 2013

"So God Made a Farmer" - Paul Harvey

Sitting in bed online shopping from my phone with the super bowl playing in the background and all of a sudden I get chills and my heart starts racing......I hear Paul Harvey's voice.  I grew up listening to Paul Harvey and the iconic phrase..."And now, the rest of the story".  The Dodge commercial played during the super bowl was hands down the best commercial of the night.  No questions asked!

The words in the video are from the speech that Mr. Paul Harvey gave to the 1978 National FFA Convention.  Here are the words to this wonderful and inspiring speech:

So God Made a Farmer

And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the field, milk cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the township board.” So God made a farmer.

“I need somebody with arms strong enough to wrestle a calf and yet gentle enough to cradle his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait for lunch until his wife’s done feeding visiting ladies, then tell the ladies to be sure to come back real soon and mean it.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt and watch it die, then dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year,’ I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from an ash tree, shoe a horse, who can fix a harness with hay wire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. Who, during planting time and harvest season will finish his 40-hour week by Tuesday noon and then, paining from tractor back, up in another 72 hours.” So God made a farmer.

God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor’s place. So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bales, yet gentle enough to help a newborn calf begin to suckle and tend the pink-comb pullets, who will stop his mower in an instant to avoid the nest of meadowlarks.”

It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed, brake, disk, plow, plant, strain the milk, replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week’s work with an eight mile drive to church. Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft, strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh, and then sigh and then reply with smiling eyes when his family says that they are proud of what Dad does. “So God made a farmer.”

Here is the super bowl video:

I have a close second which would have to be the Budweiser commercial with the Clydesdale's!

Have a great start to the week and Thank God For Farmers!!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Cauliflower crust pizza to paleo brownies

I have been trying REALLY hard to eat healthier....not going to lie I get swayed easily.  I have been working out for what seems like FOREVER and see great results muscle wise but when it comes to the scale and my waistline I tend to see minimal results and if I do they don't last long.  What is the culprit you ask?  My diet!  Back in high school I would come home from basketball practice and pound a pizza or a group of us would go to Fazoli's (are they even around anymore?) after a game and have a breadstick eating contest.  I stayed that athletic shape all through high school no prob.  Then college came....dun dun dun....beer really does make you fat!

Anyway to the issue at hand.  Once I leave the gym I think I can come home and gorge myself and expect the same results....maybe in your teens but as I have gotten older I can tell you losing weight is NOT easy.  I have this lovely personal trainer/dietitian Michele who sends me food challenges and goes over my meals and yells at me alot.  I recommend her to everyone.  She rocks!  So I have really put my head to the grindstone lately to eat healthier and not cut corners.  I absolutely have a soft spot in my heart for pizza and could eat it every week but apparently it isn't the best choice.  Who knew?  I finally tried a cauliflower crust pizza...holy amazing.  Tastes just like regular pizza but without all the carbs from the dough...booya!!!  I was also craving some serious brownies and asked Michele if paleo brownies were a better option than regular...score! they were!!!  Now obviously a brownie is still a brownie so in moderation but a much better one since made with sweet potato!!

These recipes were a hit for me and I wanted to share because it is hard to find recipes that actually taste good when it comes to "healthy" so its nice to find tried and true.   Here you go and enjoy!!!!

Cauliflower Crust Pizza:  found the recipe at Hungry Healthy Girl
Prep time: Cook time: Total time:

Serves: 2
Low carb, low fat; yet delicious. Make pizza a healthfood!
  • ½ head cauliflower (about 2 cups riced)
  • 1 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional, if you like less spice reduce to ½ teaspoon)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400° F.
  2. Prep a baking sheet or pizza stone. I would suggest a pizza baking sheet wit holes for a crisper crust.
  3. Remove the stems and leaves from your cauliflower and chop the florets into chunks. Add to a food processor or Vitamix and pulse until the texture is similar to rice.
  4. Place cauliflower “rice” in a microwave-safe bowl and cook for about 8 minutes.
  5. In a bowl combine the cooked cauliflower with all remaining ingredients.
  6. Spread and press dough out evenly over baking sheet (or stone) – about ¼ to ⅓ of an inch thick. The pizza should be about 9-10 inches in diameter.
  7. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the crust is golden, crispy on the edges and cooked through the middle.
  8. Remove the crust from the oven.
  9. Top with pizza sauce and toppings. Be careful not to add too many heavy toppings as you don’t want to weigh down the crust.
  10. Broil the pizza for about 5 minutes, or until the toppings are hot and the cheese is melted. Allow the pizza to cool for 2-3 minutes then cut and serve immediately

 Sweet Potato Paleo Brownie: found this recipe at My Paleo Life 
-Dessert Stalker also has some awesome paleo desserts!
  • 4 oz Dark chocolate
  • 2 med Sweet Potatoes, boiled purple or red skinned firm fleshed
  • 1/4 cup Unpasteurized Local Honey
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/4 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Flour
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  1. Melt the dark chocolate in the coconut oil in either a double boiler, a steel or glass bowl over a pot of boiling water or in the microwave. I generally use the microwave at 30 second bursts , stir repeat until melted (usually in 1 1/2 minutes)
  2. Puree the sweet potato in a food processor until smooth, making sure there are no lumpy bits.
  3. Add in all of the other ingredients, and mix until very smooth and creamy.
  4. Transfer the batter to an oiled 8×8 or a 6×11 baking dish.
  5. Bake at 325 degrees for 35 – 40 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a wooden skewer into the middle and seeing if it comes out clean. If not cook for another 5 minutes and test again
Try them out and tell me what you think!!  If any of you have some healthy versions of some of your favorite foods do share!!!