Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Benefits of Bacon

My family and I are huge fans of bacon.  Among friends, we are known for always having a freezer stocked with bacon, and when they come over they love to have some that we have made from our hogs.  My Farmer is known for calling bacon "Meat Candy"!

So this weekend when My Farmer and I were at the Iowa Young Farmer Conference listening to Trent Loos, we were ecstatic to hear that bacon has the same healthy fats as olive oil!  In fact, bacon grease and olive oil both have around 8-9% polyunsaturate fatty acid (PUFA); these types of fatty acids protect against cardiovascular disease.  Types of PUFA that you hear a lot about are Omega-3 and Omega-6.

So keep on eating bacon and don't feel bad about cooking your eggs in the leftover bacon grease in the morning!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What a Weekend!

My Farmer and I attended the Iowa Farm Bureau Young Farmer Conference this past weekend in Des Moines along with 325 other young farmers from across the state.  We had a great time learning new things, meeting up with old friends and making new ones.  A bittersweet note to this year's conference for us was that it was my Farmer's and my last conference serving on the state Young Farmer Advisory Committee.  We've had a great time serving with this group the last three year.  A fun highlight from the conference was that this year our county had nine members attend; a new record attendance from our county.
Franklin County Young Farmers (My Farmer and I are in the blue shirts)
Trent Loos
There was a great line-up of speakers for the weekend.  Trent Loos, a rancher and radio host from Nebraska, spoke the first night and the next day during a break-out session about bridging the gap between agriculture producers and consumers, as well as how to speak out for agriculture.  He did this by providing a lot of great information, facts and figures.  Later in the week I'll be sharing more about one of those facts that My Farmer and I can't wait to share with others!

Aaron Thomas
Another great speaker at the conference was Aaron Thomas, the Athletic Director at Aplington-Parkersburg High School.  Aaron's message didn't have an agriculture focus to it, but yet it really hit deep with me.  He talked about courage, passion, and overcoming the odds.  Aaron's family has been through a lot.  His father Ed Thomas was a well known football coach who rallied the town of Parkersburg after a deadly tornado hit the town.  Then just a year leader, Ed Thomas was murdered by a past football player who was mentally insane.  Aaron talked about what decisions he and his family made that made a difference on how the situation was handled (Click Here to watch a video on Aaron and Ed's story).  One of Aaron's messages that made an impact on me was the focus of having quality time with your loved ones and not just quantity.  I am home with LP all day, so I have a lot of quantity time with him but do I always make that quality time...  Another message the resonated with me was how do I impact others.  Have I made a difference in other people's lives?

Overall I had a great time at the conference and I came back with lot of new information and ideas from not only Trent and Aaron, but from all of the other speakers too.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Farm Friday

This week on the farm we have been busy delivery grain to the ethanol plant, loading hogs and finalizing seed sales for our Channel Bio seed dealership.  A few years ago we started a seed dealership with My Farmer's parents.  The seed dealership gives us an opportunity to create more diversity in our farming operation, as well as it is a way to stay on top of new traits and developments coming down the pipeline.  An added bonus to having the seed dealership that we didn't necessarily think would happen when we started is that we have really enjoyed getting to know other farmers from across the county by being customers of ours.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Farming = A Delicate Game

In a recent article where My Farmer and I were interviewed about our involvement with the ASA/Dupont Young Leader Program (the program that inspired me to actually start this blog!) My Farmer was quoted for saying, "Having access to land and capital and being able to get big enough, fast enough to support a growing family and still maintain good relationships with neighbors is a delicate game."

After conversations that My Farmer and I had with neighbors, landlords and friends today, I couldn't help but think of what he said.  There is a lot of competition in farming, and I think what My Farmer said describes farming for us, other young farmers, and farmers in general very well.  This weekend My Farmer and I are attending the Iowa Farm Bureau Young Farmer Conference where I'm sure this topic will be discussed by many attendees.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I Have to Disagree with Yahoo!

Last week Yahoo! released an article about the top five College Majors That Are Useless.  The article sites that degrees in business, accounting and IT are good majors to choose as they can be applied to a variety of fields, which I agree with, but I disagree with them putting agriculture majors (Agriculture, Animal Science, Horticulture) as three of the top five degrees to avoid!

The Yahoo! article states that jobs in agriculture have little to no projected job growth.  My response to Yahoo! is with a growing need for more food as the population grows, how does that not equal an area with job growth?

Other reasons I see Agriculture as a great major is there is a high interest in the field of bio-sciences and agriculture is the largest employer in the nation.  I graduated from Iowa State University and the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences always has the highest employment percentage for recent graduates for the university.  And why wouldn't the College of Ag have a high employment rating when there is a high demand for ag graduates, who come from a wide variety of majors.

I can't find any reason not to be in agriculture and I am proud to hold a Agriculture Education/Communications degree and to be working in agriculture!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Farm Friday

I have decided to start a new regular posting - Farm Friday!  On Fridays I will show different things that My Farmer and I are up to on the farm.

For my first Farm Friday post I figured I'd explain our hog operation.  My Farmer and I have a 2400 head finishing site.

Photo obviously taken during the summer, way too cold to take a photo today...

As you can see the site has two buildings and an office on it.  Our buildings have an auto-sort system in them where the hogs walk through a scale to get to the "food court" area.

My Farmer checking the feeders in the "Food Court"

When they are done in the food court they can leave and hang out in a "lounge" area.

Lots of space for the pigs to explore

When the hogs are near a market weight of 270 pounds we turn on the scales a couple days before they are scheduled to go to market.  The scales will sort out the hogs that are ready to go to market into a separate lounge area than the ones that still need some time.  This reduces some of our sorting labor in preparation to bring pigs to market.

Our dog Bailey helping with chores

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Community Pride

This week I have been thinking a lot about how much I am proud of my community.  People often ask My Farmer and I why we are involved in so much.  Our answer is that we get involved with our community because we are so proud of where we are from.  We want to continue to see our community grow and thrive.  By getting involved we can make decisions that are good for the future of our family and kids.

One of the reasons I have been so proud of my community this week is that on Monday night I was invited to join a Partnership Group with several community leaders and business owners from our county.  The group discussed ways to get more people to our community, create connections and build relationships.  One way of getting more people to our county we decided would be to create itineraries that people could use when visiting our county set up through our county chamber and tourism group.  One itinerary that the group came up with would be a farm/agriculture tour.  Several members of the Partnership Group said that people are just interested about farming and would love to just visit a family farm.  I agreed that My Farmer and I would be willing to host people depending on our schedule and that I'd line up several farmers from the county that would be willing to host a similar tour.  Here is a little of what the group came up with.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Farmer's Continuing Education

Earlier today My Farmer, LP and I participated in some "farmer continuing education" by attending an area crop clinic.  The winter time offers a lot of opportunities for farmers to learn more about marketing strategies, to new trait development, to agronomy trial results.  There were a couple hundred farmers at the crop clinic we attended today ranging from 80 years old to 20 years old (or 10 months if you count LP!).

My Farmer and I really enjoyed listening to Ken Ferrie talk about nitrogen management.  After today's presentations we are considering changing and modifying some of our current nitrogen management practices on our farm.  It is always a lot of fun to attend meetings like this when we have time because you get to learn new things, meet new people and talk with old friends.  Today's meeting was also very special to me because all three of us - My Farmer, LP and I were able to attend.  To be able to have some family time together was an added bonus to today's crop clinic benefits!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Family Blessings

As I traveled an hour to meet up with my sisters and mom for some "girl time" earlier today I got to thinking how blessed my Farmer and I are to have all of our family so close.  We are close to our family in different ways:

  • Distance - We can travel to visit all of our immediate family in just a couple hours and my Farmer's parents just live a mile and a half away from us.  Not too many people can say that.  
  • Relationships - We are friends with all of our family members - in business and play.  
  • Togetherness - We feel blessed that both of our families enjoy being together and have become good family friends with each other.
Thank you to our family for your constant love and support!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Happy Anniversary to My Farmer

Yesterday was my Farmer's and my wedding anniversary.  We got married four years ago, and I am truly loving life being my Farmer's wife and best friend.  To celebrate we went out last night to our local casino's Woodfire Grille; a nice, romantic, no kids allowed restaurant which was exactly what we both were looking for.  Here we are last night after our delicious supper and great night.

We reminisced a lot about our wedding day and the last eight years together (dating and married life).  It was a lot of fun to talk about fond memories and dream about the future.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Crazy January Weather!

There's no doubt that this winter so far has been unseasonably warm.  Temperatures today at home reached the mid-50s.  It was so nice out that LP, our dog Bailey and I got the stroller out and took a walk down our gravel road!

Now I have to admit, the walk today was great.  But I am missing "normal" January weather!  I love winter - the snow, bundling up, the cold air and sledding with my church youth group.  Some may think I'm crazy for missing it, but I am missing winter!

Also, all I can think is what does this unseasonably warm weather now mean for the rest of winter and into spring.  The rest of the winter could be very cold; Iowa weather history indicates that a warm December and January are often followed by a colder than average February and March.  As for this spring, the farmer in me is wondering if Elwynn Taylor's drought is actually going to happen.  We already had a dry fall, if we have a dry winter, does that mean we will be in severe drought conditions for spring planting?

I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens.  Until I get my beloved winter back, I guess I'll just have to go with the flow and enjoy the beautiful weather like I did today by going on a walk and grilling tonight for supper.

(I am happy to report for all my winter lovers out there - there is a chance of snow for tomorrow!  I am getting very excited and am hoping that I can dust off my sled soon!)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Land Auction

Last week My Farmer attended a local land auction where he and my father-in-law were interested in the two pieces of land going up for sale.  When he got back home after the auction the big news wasn't necessarily who ended up purchasing the tracks of land, but that NBC National News was at the auction.  Earlier in the week I talked about one aspect of having the Iowa Caucuses is that the national media highlights the state - this includes them traveling around the state finding non-caucus stories and that is what brought the Rock Center crew to our local town of 400 people.  Field$ of Dream$

It is no surprise that the national news was interested in the land auction.  Farmland values are on the rise in Iowa.  Farm income has risen in recent years due to strong commodity prices.  Just like any business, when there has been a rise in income, you make updates and upgrades.  Farmers are doing just the same by updating equipment and are looking to expand their operations.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Iowa Caucuses

I have always been proud to say that I have voted in every major election and participated in every presidential caucus since I was eighteen and tonight was no different.  Iowans have a unique opportunity to participate in the first in the nation caucuses and tonight there was a new record of voters that turned out.  The caucuses bring a lot to Iowa - being able to shake hands and hear from presidential candidates in your local communities, national media highlighting the state, and lots of political advertising over the TV, radio and phone.  Some of these aspects of having the caucuses Iowans like, and some we can't wait for the day after the caucuses so they end...

I'll be talking about the national media in the state a little later this week.  Until then, here is a video that has just started circulating in Iowa titled Iowa Nice.  I guess you could say this video was created to educate all of the visitors that filtrate Iowa during the caucuses.  Warning, there is some adult language in the video.  Iowa Nice You Tube video

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Resolution

Today is January 1st - the day that many people, all across the world, make a New Year's Resolution.  I have made New Year's resolutions in the past, some I have successfully done for the entire year and longer, while others I fail at within the first part of the year.

One of my New Year's resolutions for this year is to create this blog and post on a regular basis.  Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids sums up me and my family pretty well.  I have been married to my best friend, My Farmer, for almost four years and we raise corn, soybeans, have two wean to finish hog barns and have a 10 month old son, LP.  We live in North Central Iowa, or as we like to call it - God's Country.  In God's Country the land is flat and black and you can see for miles just by standing on your front porch.  We love farming and the life that it gives our family.  We are farming to live and living to farm.  I look forward to connecting with others about our life in God's Country.

So here's to New Year's resolutions and keeping them for the entire year and longer!