Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Full Social Media Plate

Within the last two months I feel like I have filled my "social media plate."  My social media timeline would go like this:
  • 2004 - Facebook.  I started a facebook account when it came to Iowa State University when I was a sophomore in school, back in the day that it was only at colleges.  I have seen facebook go through many changes, but through it all I would say I am very comfortable with facebook.
  • 2009 - LinkedIn.  I started a LinkedIn account after I found out about the social media by being involved with a leadership group.  I joined because this leadership group created a LinkedIn group on it.  I get a lot of ideas for the independent contract projects I do from the groups I am a member of; I love being able to ask questions to other professional and network with people I have worked with.
  • 2012 - Blog.  I started this blog on January 1st after a long time of thinking about doing it.  I am really enjoying blogging and would now consider myself a blogger.
  • 2012 - Twitter.  I started a Twitter account on January 24th after My Farmer convinced me that following people, such as ag marketing services, was benefit enough to begin an account.  I was always a twitter holdout but now that I'm learning the ropes of tweeting I can see the advantages to using this social media.
  • 2012 - Pinterest.  I started Pinterest at the beginning of February after being asked to give a presentation to a group of farm women on how I use social media and why to get involved.  I wanted to tell the women about Pinterest so I figured I'd better join.  Now that I'm on it - I love it!  It is great to store ideas in one place.
So as you can see, my social media plate is now pretty full!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Our first of probably many tractor birthday parties...

Yesterday LP had his first birthday party.  We invited LP's grandparents, aunts, uncle, great-grandparents and one of his great-great aunts for the celebration.  I decided to do a tractor theme for his birthday since he enjoyed riding in tractors and combines so much in his first year of life.

Here is a look at the invitations we sent.  I used LP's footprint to make a tractor on the front cover of the card and the party information was in the inside:

For party decorations I made a pennant banner with red star scrap booking paper and photos from the past year of LP in tractors.  I also made a collage of tractor photos that welcomed everyone for the front doors.

For food we had a macaroni & cheese and mashed potatoes (LP's favorite foods) bar.  I made bacon, ham and sauteed green peppers & onions for the toppings.  Everyone really enjoyed the meal!  I also made a chocolate cake and then cut it and decorated it to look like a tractor.  I also made homemade ice cream to go with.

LP had a great time spending time with all of our family members, opening his presents and eating his cake and ice cream.  Part of me can't believe he is already one year old but at the same time I feel like he has been apart of our family always.  This past year has been so much fun, such a joy and a wonderful blessing!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Farm Friday

Today is a very exciting day for us on the farm.

#1 - LP turned one year old today!  What fun and exciting things does LP see in his future?  
  • His birthday party with family on Sunday.  (I'm planning on posting some photos from that afterwards.)
  • His first haircut.
  • His first happy meal.
Rise and Shine!  I am now 1 year old!
#2 - I helped plan and lead our county Farm Bureau's National Food Checkout Week event this morning.  In the past our county went to our local grocery store gave people back the farmer's share of their grocery bill.  This was a nice event and made people aware that only 12 cents out of every dollar of food was earned by farmers.  But we decided it was time to try something new, create more awareness for National Food Checkout Week and help those less fortunate than others.  So we had our first annual "Breakfast Battle - Taking a Morning Break to Provide Meals for Franklin County Families."
We had 10 business teams and 3 FFA chapter teams of three members each race around the store to find breakfast, dinner and supper for a family ranging between $45 and $50 in the fastest amount of time.  Each team created their own menu and when they got to the checkout if they had over $50 worth of groceries, they had to take something out of their cart.  And vice versa, if they didn't have $45 worth of groceries, they had to go back into the store and collect something more to go with their menu.  Teams were given a chance to take 10 seconds off their time by answering Food Check-Out Week trivia correctly or by being our Facebook poll "Fan Favorite" winner.  We worked with the two food pantries in the county and had all 13 day's worth of meals delivered to families in the need that morning, that way the teams could get perishable items such as dairy, meat and produce.

The event was a lot of fun and created a lot of awareness for National Food Check-Out Week, as well as the need that our food pantries have all year long.  Our county Farm Bureau also collected food and monetary donations throughout the week for the food pantries.  We had a great time this morning at the event and look forward to making this an annual event.  Can't wait for the 2nd Annual Breakfast Battle in 2013!  If you want to check out more about the Franklin County Farm Bureau's Breakfast Battle check out our Facebook page or read the article in the Mason City Globe Gazette.




Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

There have been so many fun things happening lately, I figured I'd do a "Wordless Wednesday" to show a few things my family has been up to from the past week.

 Last week LP went to his first Nut Fry.  
Here is a photo of our friend Rusty, LP, My Farmer and our friend/neighbor Merlin in Conrad for the Nut Fry.

LP started using silverware by himself this past week.

 We got to visit some friends this past weekend who have a little girl just three months younger than LP.

Our church had it's all church birthday party this past weekend.  Each birthday month has their own specially decorated table and special cake.  I was incharge of January.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Bailey, the best farm dog

I believe a must-have asset to every farm is a good farm dog and on our farm we have a four year old golden retriever named Bailey.

Now Bailey might not be a "working" dog, but she does give our entire family companionship, entertainment and constant love.  She is a self-reliant, loving dog who loves to hunt around and protect her farm.  I found out that today is "Love Your Pet Day," so I figured I had to dedicate a post to Bailey.  In honor of Bailey, here is the top three reasons to have a farm dog:

#3:  No matter what they look like, they will always make you smile.  Dogs are a lot of fun and are entertaining.  (Bailey has been covered in mud, dead animal, skunk spray, and you can only guess what over the years...)

#2:  They always make you feel important and wanted.  (Bailey sits by the mailbox and waits for us to come home when we are gone.  Once she sees us pull in the drive, she races to the garage, that way when you open the door you can pet her.)

#1:  They are 24/7 guardians.  (Bailey is always watching out and over our entire family.  I love to see Bailey with LP.)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Farm Friday

My Farmer using the grain vac to clean out the bottom of  a grain  bin.
This week we have been busy with hauling grain and cleaning out grain bins on the farm.

Here is My Farmer and LP taking a break while cleaning out a grain bin.
This week I personally was busy off the farm by doing some contract work for the Iowa Soybean Association's Ag-Urban Initiative.  I am one of the coordinators for the program and this week we had our Annual Day on the Hill, as well as the leadership class met for the second time this year.  The class is focusing this year on creating some agriculture and food focused programming to disseminate through public television. During the class session the group also went through some leadership training focusing on creating community and effect change, as well as how to articulate relevant success.  Finally one of the class members presented on successes of his home area which has been getting some state-wide attention lately, Sioux County.  I really enjoy working with this program and this dynamic group of people.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

No Trip to the Emergency Room This Year!

I am proud to report that there was no Valentine's Day trip to the emergency room this year for our family!  Today marked the second anniversary of a grease fire that left some permanent damage to My Farmer's hand, scars on our dog's head and the loss of one of my favorite sweaters...  I don't need to go too deep into the story, so the lesson for everyone is to grab the baking soda when you have a grease fire!

Anyways onto this year, we had a very nice Valentine's Day that started with some heart shaped cinnamon rolls...
Thank you pinterest for the simple idea!
And finished with a great Valentine's Day supper that included our traditional Valentine's Day appetizer - fried pickles and traditional dessert - chocolate melting cake, paired with bacon wrapped pork loin and bacon macaroni & cheese.  My Farmer loves bacon, and I figured since this is the holiday of love, I better make him something with bacon!  And since this was our first Valentine's Day with LP, I figured I'd better include one of his favorite foods too!


I had a great Valentine's Day and feel very blessed to have two Valentine's this year!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dairy, Sheep, Tootsie Rolls, Ethanol...

You might wonder how a post can cover Dairy, Sheep, Tootsie Rolls and Ethanol - well, the answer is that earlier today LP and I headed into our local school to help with Ag in the Classroom.

In our area, our Ag in the Classroom program is unique.  It is a 501(c)3 organization with three part-time employees who go out to schools in six counties to deliver the programs, develop the curriculum, and work on grants and sponsorship for the program.  All six counties' Farm Bureau boards are sponsors of the organization.  In the last school year the program visited nearly 7,000 students in over 20 school districts.

At our school visit today we visited students grades Kindergarten through 5th grade.  Ag in the Classroom has been visiting our local school for the last six years and I was impressed with how much information the students retained from previous years' programs.  In Iowa two of our main commodities are corn and soybeans.  Each classroom visit starts with reviewing what field corn and soybeans are used for.  All the kids remembered that the top purpose for both of these is that they are fed to animals.  Then they talk how they consume the products (high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, soy lecithin, etc.) and how the commodities are used for fuels (ethanol and biodiesel).

LP helping with the 4th grade "Where did my supper come from?" activity
Here is a quick list of the programs we did today.  If you are interested in learning anymore about any of these curriculums, contact the North Central Iowa Ag in the Classroom organization.

Kindergarten:  Dairy - The students learned the story of a dairy cow and the production of milk.  They also made their own butter.
1st Grade:  My Farm Connection - The students matched up products that came from several commodities.
2nd Grade:  Sheep - The students read a book about sheep and making wool.  Then they carded their own sample of wool and died it with Kool-Aid.
3rd Grade:  What's in my Tootsie Roll? - The students learned about the production of cocoa and the creation of chocolate.  They also learned about reading food labels.
4th Grade:  Where did my supper come from? - The students first identified on a map worksheet the top producing states of many ag commodities.  Then they received different supper menus and had to decide what ingredients were used in their supper, along with what state(s) those ingredients would have come from.
5th Grade:  Ethanol - The students made their own "ethanol" by crushing up animal crackers (corn and sugars), added yeast and hot water and then watched a "chemical reaction" occur.  They also walked through the process of an ethanol plant.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Farm Friday

This week the farm has been busy hauling grain into our local grain elevator and local ethanol plants, as well as selling some hogs.  Both of these things went very smooth due to the lack of snow!  Most winters we are busy blowing snow so we can get to the grain bins to get the corn out to haul.  We also spend a lot of time moving snow so we can have enough room at our hog site for semi-trucks to get near the loading shoots at the hog buildings.  We've only moved snow a couple of times this winter, and even though I have missed seeing a white cover of snow on the ground, it sure has made things nice for getting things done this winter on the farm.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Who Needs Vegas!

Who needs Vegas?  Well, actually, I have been feeling like a vacation lately, so maybe I would like to venture off to Vegas, but I don't need to travel there to get the feeling of beating the odds.  I can get that feeling all year long when it comes to marketing our commodities - corn, soybeans and hogs.

One way I educate myself and try to get a better handle on the markets is by participating in my local Women's Marketing Club.  At our monthly meetings (during the winter and summer months) we discuss USDA reports, trends, outlook from Extension and have guest speakers.  I always learn something new to bring home to share with My Farmer and I enjoy the fellowship with the other women.

My Women's Marketing Club met today and what I really enjoyed discussing at the session was crop insurance and hearing from one of the local ethanol plant's grain buyers explain their available grain contracts, including walking through a Hedge To Arrive contract.

Monday, February 6, 2012

"American Meat"

This afternoon My Farmer and I went to our local high school for a screening and discussion of the documentary film American Meat.  We were asked to be on a panel discussion with other local farmers, a representative from Niman Ranch, our County Youth Coordinator from Extension, and our local veterinarian.  The entire school body of grades 7-12, three other area FFA chapters and members of the public were in attendance, totaling around 200 people.

American Meat is a documentary film that looks at meat production in the United States, mainly focusing on pork and poultry production.  I went into the screening preparing myself to see an updated Food Inc. film.  While yes, there was a strong support and bias towards grass-fed meat production, the film didn't actively discount modern meat production, or as the film liked to refer to it as - commodity production.  I believe there was some mis-information in the film about modern agriculture as it referred to subsidies, animal health, taste of product, farmer's income and reasons for small towns disappearing.

Originally, like I stated earlier, we were suppose to be on a panel discussion following the film; instead we split up the audience into small groups and discussed a series of questions posed by the director of the film, Graham Meriwether:

  • Do you know anyone that has lost a farm?
  • Why are small towns disappearing?
  • What are the advantages of commodity agriculture?
  • What are the disadvantages of commodity agriculture?
  • How does the egg mobile (an invention by Joel Salatin) work?
  • What are the advantages of grass-based farms?
  • What are the disadvantages of grass-based farms?

The small group I talked with was a group of seniors and juniors in high school.  None of them knew of anyone that had lost a farm.  They believed small towns were disappearing due to lack of jobs, which I believe is true and because peoples habits are changing - such as distance they are willing to drive.  I believe the film made an image that the reason small towns are disappearing was entirely due to "big ag."  The group said the advantages of modern agriculture were that a large number of animals are able to be produced at a cheap price.  The disadvantage the group thought, based on the film, was that animals were sick and it is making farmers poor - both things I disagree with and I explained why to them.  The concept of the egg mobile is that you bring a group of chickens out to a paddock that just had cattle on it.  The chickens are able to eat the bugs and insects in the manure from the cow.  The manure then gives nutrients to the pasture, that then the cattle go back and rotate on to eat the grass and make manure - restarting the cycle.  I explained to my group that we have the same cycle with our confinement barns.  The pigs make manure, the manure is spread onto fields, the corn benefits from the manure, the corn is fed to the pigs, and the cycle continues.  The group decided the advantages of grass-based farms was that the animals were healthier, the food tasted better and was of higher quality, which they would have gotten the sense of from the film.  The disadvantage of grass-based farms they saw was that not enough people were doing it, which I believe was a main goal of the film.  When discussing these last two questions with the group I reinstated with them that we get safe and high-quality products from all types of production.  I also talked about how the market will dictate the ways of farming.  The one issue that I couldn't convince them was untrue was the taste; they all believed without a doubt that grass-fed animals tasted better.

Overall, I am happy that I was able to be there today to correct some of the mis-truths of the film, but at the same time, I'm worried what information each small group had during the discussion time.  I was amazed how even "farm kids" were accepting of all the information and views in the film.  I also find it interesting that this film is being promoted through FFA in Iowa.  I talked with Graham after the film and he said he is on a 40 site viewing schedule with FFA chapters and education institutes.  His next project is a documentary on young farmers.

In the end, the United States is a great place because it offers consumers choices and this film showed different choices available.  And as of now, the United States pretty much allows you to make choices on how you raise animals on your farm.  In the United States we are lucky to have such an abundant, safe, consistent and high quality food supply.  I am happy that there was respect between everyone in attendance, despite differing views.  To check if a screening of American Meat is coming to your local area, check the film's website's screenings schedule.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Farm Friday

What is happening this Friday on the farm is maybe more of what is happening off the farm.  Today I had the privilege and opportunity to speak at the Iowa Post-Secondary Ag Students (PAS) Spring Conference.  I gave a presentation to a group of over fifty ag college students about being a young farmer.  I covered My Farmer's and my story, as well as programs out there for young farmers, how and why to get involved, and we had an open discussion on how to make a plan for how to be more than just labor on your family farm.

I enjoyed working with the Iowa PAS organization when I use to work for the Iowa Soybean Association, so it was great to connect with this group once again.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Six More Weeks of Winter

From Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to North Central Iowa, it looks like there will be six more weeks of winter.
If you look closely you can see LP's shadow
Six more weeks of winter doesn't seem bad to me.  In reality I feel like we haven't even really had that much of a winter so far.  As you can tell in the photo we have parts of our lawn with no snow anymore.  Now there are only piles of snow here and there and in the ditches.