Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Green Thumb Journey

For the last couple of years I have had a garden and I have to admit, I haven't been the best gardener.  Areas where I have stumbled include:  letting weeds overtake my garden and not keeping up on watering the plants.  Now I haven't been a "brown thumb" and just kill everything I lay a hand on, but I am a far cry from being a "green thumb."  I figured if I updated my blog throughout the summer on the progress of my garden, I just might keep up on my garden better - think of it as an accountability thing.

So, here is a look at my garden:

Salsa Garden plus Radishes, planted on May 19th
In my "salsa" garden I have planted five different varieties of tomato plants, six varieties of peppers, onions and radishes.  My goal with this garden is to be able to make and can some salsa at the end of the summer.  So you all know, I also keep a pot of cilantro in my kitchen, so I'll be adding that to my salsa too.

Salsa Garden on May 29th
I'm happy to report that so far I have been keeping up on the weeds (but I realize I haven't had too much of a battle yet), and I have been keeping up on daily care.  Everything is growing nicely so far.

I also love to plant pumpkins and gourds.  One mistake I made in the past was having my pumpkins and gourds in the same area as my salsa garden.  This doesn't work because the pumpkins and gourds overtake the entire garden, so this year I have a separate pumpkin and gourd patch!  I planted it yesterday, so you obviously can't see too much from it right now but I hope to have some nice pumpkins and gourds for LP to carve and share with family and friends.

Pumpkin & Gourd Patch
My plan is to update you on my "Green Thumb Journey" every couple weeks.  Here is to yummy salsa and lots of pumpkins and gourds!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Remember Our Fallen Heroes On Memorial Day

As you enjoy your Memorial Day today, please remember those that have died in battle so we can celebrate today and all year long, because of the freedom our military have given us.  Also, pay respect to those that have served or are serving in our armed services.  I am especially giving thanks for my sister Rachel and brother-in-law Brandon who both are currently serving in the Army National Guard and Marine Reserves respectively.

In honor of Memorial Day I'd like to share a photo and a moment that My Farmer and I experienced earlier this year.  In March, My Farmer and I travel to Washington DC on a legislative trip with the Iowa Farm Bureau.  While on the trip we had some time to do some sight seeing, so one night we went on a bus tour.  One of the stops was at the Vietnam Memorial.  The travel guide said that there was a book near the memorial that listed every name on the Vietnam Memorial wall but that it would be hard to find a person's name at night, because they don't have very much light on the memorial in the evening.  My Farmer and I decided that we'd try anyway.  My Farmer's Mom's brother died in Vietnam.  He was my Mother-in-law's only sibling.  So we looked up Roger's name in the book, and it must have been meant to be that we find his name, because we counted to which section of the wall he was on and as soon as we got there we immediately found his name.

I'd like to end today's post with the litany from our church service out at the cemetery yesterday:

Let us give thanks to God for the land of our birth with all its chartered liberties.  For all the wonder of our country's story:
We give you thanks, O God.
For leaders in nation and state, and for those who in days past and in these present times have labored for the commonwealth:
We give you thanks, O God.
For those who in all times and places have been true and brave, and in the world's common ways have lived upright lives and ministered to their fellows:
We give you thanks, O God.
For those who served their country in its hour of need, and especially for those who gave even their lives in that service:
We give you thanks, O God.
Almighty God and most merciful Father, as we remember these your servants, remembering with gratitude their courage and strength, we hold before you those who mourn them.  Look upon your bereaved servants with your mercy.  As this day brings them memories of those they have lost awhile, may it also bring your consolation and the assurance that their loved ones are alive now and forever in your living presence.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Farm Friday

Happy Friday!  This week on the farm we have been spraying different fields, crop and weed scouting, and praying for rain!  We haven't had rain for a few weeks now, so we are hoping for a nice rain fall this weekend.  It is funny to think how at the beginning of the month we were wishing for the rain to stop because it was slowing down our planting pace.  And now we are wanting rain so the crops can grow.  Across the Midwest, drought maps indicate dry conditions to even moderate drought.  To tell you how much we need rain, I had a dream two nights ago about rain...  Now we did get a little bit of rain yesterday, but we are still looking for some more today and over the weekend.  Rain in our area has been very spotty so far this week.

Now to check on my "backyard."

Isn't it neat to see how much the corn grows from week to week.

I've been sharing how to determine the growth stage of corn for the last few Farm Fridays.  Can anyone determine what stage the corn is at this week?

Can you guess what stage of development our corn is at today?
Besides growing corn, we also raise soybeans.  To show you the development of soybeans I'm now going to weekly scout one of our soybean fields, which also happens to be next to our hog buildings.

These soybeans were planted on May 15th, so as you can see, you can just now start to see them coming out from under the ground.  In probably the next week in our area, as you drive across the country-side you'll see more soybeans emerged.

 Soybeans have two developmental stages - vegetative and reproductive.  The vegetative (V) stages are numbered according to how many fully-developed trifoliate leaves are present.  The reproductive (R) stages being at flowering and include pod development, seed development and plant maturation.  The picture below is of one of the soybean plants.  It is in the stage of growth known at VE - Vegetative Emergence.  When you look at the plant you see two large leaves folded out with two more leaves starting to unroll.  The two large leaves are the Cotyledon and the two leaves in the center is the first and only unifoliate leaf.  Following the unifoliate leaf, trifoliate leaves begin to grow from the plant.

VE soybean
Hope you all have a great Memorial Day weekend and that you remember and pay tribute to those that are fighting and have fought and died for our country.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Happiness = Giving Up Things...

Last week I was reading a blog post from the Prairie Princess about "15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy" and I thought about those things today as I was busy comforting my 14 month old as he has a new molar tooth coming in, as I'm days late on responding to emails, and as I feel a little "behind" on getting things off my "to do" list done!

Anyways, I'd like to share with you the "Things."

  1. Give up your need to always be right.
  2. Give up your need for control.
  3. Give up on blame.
  4. Give up your self-defeating self-talk.
  5. Give up your limiting beliefs.
  6. Give up complaining.
  7. Give up the luxury of criticism.
  8. Give up your need to impress others.
  9. Give up your resistance to change.
  10. Give up labels.
  11. Give up on your fears.
  12. Give up your excuses.
  13. Give up your past.
  14. Give up attachment.
  15. Give up living your life to other people's expectations.
The top three "Things" speaking to me today are:
  • My Need to Always be Right - I need to remember to let things go and not always feel like I need to have the last word, or prove that I am correct.  This need has caused unnecessary stress and pain to me and others in the past.  I don't need that in my life, so I need to remember that I always don't need to be "right."
  • My Need for Control - I feel like my need for control kind of relates to my need to always be right, but at the same time they're different.  I've always been independent and have been known to not delegate very well...  Now people that really know me are laughing out loud probably right now because they know how little I like to delegate.  But if I am feeling overwhelmed by just "stuff" I need to learn to let go and either delegate or reprioritize my priorities.  And I feel like reprioritizing might need my attention the most.
  • My Excuses - At the start of this blog I gave excuses right off the bat about why I am just feeling a little bogged down right now.  If I stop giving excuses, then I have no other reason but to get things done that need to get done, as well as starting doing things that I may have pushed off for a long time because of excuses I gave myself.  
What "Things" would be best for your to give up?

Figuring out what I need to do to keep myself and my family  "in line" for happiness

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ag Pizza Party!

Today for dinner my family and I enjoyed a savory pizza from Domino's Pizza in honor of the Ag Pizza Party.

After our End of the Year Sunday School Breakfast with our senior high youth group, I drove 33 miles to our nearest Domino's.

Thank you Domino's for supporting agriculture!  To find out more about the Ag Pizza Party, check out my Speak-up and Support Agriculture Today! blog post.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Speak-up and Support Agriculture Today!

This weekend there are two events happening where you can get involved to show your support for agriculture - Food Revolution Day and Ag Pizza Party.

Food Revolution Day.  Jamie Oliver, host of the TV show "Food Revolution" and catalyst of the "pink slime" situation, has named today, Saturday, May 19th, as "Food Revolution Day."  If you go to the event's website you'll notice that the motto behind the day is "Stand Up For Real Food."  Real food.  This simple word make me want to get involved and I hope it does you too!  If you look more on the website it looks like they define real food as locally sourced, fresh food.  They also make a bold statement that everyone needs to "get back to basics and start thinking about where our food comes from."

I believe one of the best parts of living in America is that we have choices.  We have the privilege of having lots of healthy choices when it comes to our food.  I know that my family and other farm families across the nation do their best job to raise affordable, healthy and quality food for me and everyone.

So why stand up today.  Well, I think farmers should talk about what we do on our farms everyday, but especially today, I challenge everyone to share their story of how we all play an important role in raising the safest food supply in the World.  I'm doing this by writing this blog, as well as tweeting and facebooking about all the good work farmers are doing to create those food choices that I talked about before.  If you tweet, please use the hashtag #FoodRevolution in your tweets about the good work farmers do to feed people. You can also follow the @FoodRev Twitter handle to monitor messaging and even chime in.  On Facebook, you can visit the Food Revolution Community page and post your feedback and information there. You can also use your own personal pages to share information and insight. 

To get you started, I thought I'd share a couple tweets I have scheduled for today:
  • Today's American #farmer produces enough food in a year to feed 155 people, compared to just 46 in 1960. #FoodRevolution
  • In 2012, 97% of US #farms are family owned and operated. #Food Revolution
  • In less than a generation, world’s population will need 100% more food than grown today. #FoodRevolution
  • Livestock get antibiotics, med  treatment 2 prevent, treat disease, just like u & ur family. #FoodRevolution
  • When the weather cooperates, #Iowa #farmers can plant over 1 million acres of #corn in 1 day. #FoodRevolution
  • I’m an #IA #farmer & proudly eat the meat I raise on my farm. Mmm #Pork. #FoodRevolution
  • I'm an #IA #farmer & am proud to raise #corn, #soybeans, #pigs and #kids. #FoodRevolution
Ag Pizza Party.  The second event that you can get involved in is happening all weekend, it is the Ag Pizza Party.  About a month ago, Domino's Pizza shareholders rejected a request to study ending the use of pork from suppliers who use gestation creates.  Other fast-food companies like Burger Kind, Wendy's and McDonald's have pledged to phase out the use of pork from such suppliers, but Domino's said hold on, lets talk to experts in animal care and behavior to see where we should be getting our food from.

My Farmer and I just finish hogs, so we are not apart of the phase of growth that involves gestation crates, but I was raised on a farrow to finish hog farm that did use gestation crates.  Gestation stalls are a benefit to both the mother sow and baby piglets.  The major benefit is that it creates a safe environment for both the sows and piglets.

So how can you get involved?  Go to your local Domino's Pizza (which I am going to have to travel 33 miles to get to mine) and order a pizza for you and your family this weekend, May 18th-20th.  When you pick-up your pizza, hand them a thank you note.  If you are a farmer use this thank you note and if you are an ag supporter use this thank you note.

So enjoy some great pizza and say thank you to a company that supports agriculture and farm families!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Farm Friday

This week's Farm Friday is getting out later than I normally like to get it out because things have just simply been busy around here today, and really, this week.  We finished planting corn on Monday of this week and then finished planting soybeans last night!  It feels good to have everything in the ground.  Now that we are done planting, My Farmer has promised to get my garden tilled!  I usually have a goal of getting this done by Mother's Day, but the farm comes first.  I figure one week after Mother's Day isn't too bad!

As for my "backyard" this week, the corn is growing well.  It would be nice to get a little rain though, and it sounds like we might get a little at the end of the weekend.

The corn is at the V4 stage today.  As you can see from the photos below, you can clearly see four leaves and collars.

And to end today's blog post, I wanted to give a few fun facts about turkeys.  Today I visited the Iowa Turkey Federation and had a great time catching up with Gretta Irwin, the Executive Director of ITF.

My Top Ten Favorite Turkey Facts:
  • Iowa ranks 7th in the nation for turkey production and Iowa increases production every year.
  • It takes about 14 weeks for a hen and 18 weeks for a tom to grow to market weight.
  • The average market weight of a hen is 23 pounds and a tom is 35 pounds.
  • Turkeys have around 3,500 feathers at maturity.
  • In a turkeys' lifetime them will consume approximately 1 bushel of corn and 1/3 bushel of soybeans.  This results in Iowa's turkeys consuming 62,000 acres of corn and 69,000 acres of soybeans.
  • Hormones are not used in raising turkeys.  It is illegal.  The use of hormones was banned in the 1950s.
  • Turkey sandwiches account for 48% of all turkey consumption.
  • West Liberty Foods, an Iowa-farmer owned company, is Subway's largest supplier of turkey.  They also supply a large amount of turkey to Jimmy John's.
  • It is estimated that 46 million turkeys are ate at Thanksgiving, 22 million at Christmas and 19 million at Easter.
  • Feeling drowsy after Thanksgiving dinner?  Recent studies show that turkey is not the cause.  The study showed that a carbohydrate rich, not protein rich, meal increases the level of tryprophan in the brain, creating drowsiness.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Rules of a Farmer (How to Have a Happy Farm Wife)

I received a lot of attention and comments from my Rules of a Farm Wife (Spring Edition) blog post last week.  After My Farmer read it, he figured he needed to write one for all the farmers out there.  Just like the rules I wrote, these are meant to be fun and at the same time give helpful hints to have a happy spring or harvest.  These too can be used for both farmers and non-farmers.  So here is My Farmer's "Rules of a Farmer (How to Have a Happy Farm Wife)":
  1. Communication.  Be mindful of how you talk to your wife while she is helping you on the farm.  Don't yell at her like she's just another farm hand.  She is the one who feeds you, watches out for you, etc.  Think of her as a partner, more than just help.  Unlike other farm hands, she has no problem leaving the field and going home.
  2. Check-in.  It is easy to get distracted with the day and all of sudden you get home and everyone is in bed or ready to go to bed.  Be sure to give your wife a call now and then to just check-in.  Auto-steer is a great technology that makes it easier to make these important phone calls from time to time.
  3. Home Sweet Home.  Remember to leave your day at the door.  When you come home at the end of the day engage with those at home.  Keep your wife in tune with what is going on on the farm, but don't leash out all of your frustrations on her.
  4. Mum is the Word.  No matter what you do, never, and I mean never, compare your wife to your Mom.  Never say, "well my Mom does it this way" or "I like my Mom's better."  This will never end well.  Period.
The saying still is "Happy Wife.  Happy Life."

I think this just shows that marriage is a partnership.  Just to show how much we are a partnership, I typed this up for my husband as he told me his ideas and thoughts over the last several days...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day

I had such a great Mother's Day yesterday!

LP (14 months) and I enjoying the beautiful afternoon yesterday
We started off the morning with church, where my Senior High Youth group led the church service.  They did a great job.  I was very proud of all of them.  The service focused on both Mother's Day, as well as a recognizing our graduating senior.

These members of our Senior High Youth group led yesterday's church service
 Following church, we took My Farmer's Mom, as well as Dad, sister, sister's fiance and sister's fiance's daughter out for Mother's Day dinner (whoa! what a mouthful...)  It was good to catch up with everyone and to eat a lot of great food.

My Farmer, LP and my Mother-in-Law
Then we enjoyed some time at home just the three of us!  It was very nice and considerate of My Farmer to take the whole day off from the field, especially since we hadn't finished planting yet.
*** Update on progress *** As I write this blog entry we are finishing planting our last field of corn!  We'll be moving onto soybeans next.

We finished the day off by going out for supper with my Mom, sisters, brother-in-law and one of my sister's boyfriend.  It was another great time hanging out with family and another filling round of good food.

My Mom, LP and me
And the best part of yesterday was what My Farmer and LP gave me - a day of eating by myself, where I didn't have to share my food with anyone or feed anyone beside myself AND a day of being able to go to the bathroom with privacy!  They might sound like funny and small things, but it was the best gift they could give me - it's a Mom thing!  I also got some beautiful flowers.

Thanks for a great Mother's Day!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Farm Friday

I can't believe that it is already Friday!  It has been a busy and fast week.  We got into the field on Monday night, had a little delay on Tuesday from rain, and have been going steady ever since Wednesday.  There is a slight chance of rain tonight, but we're hoping it misses us so we can finish planting our corn.  We are about 80% done planting corn and then we'll move onto planting soybeans.

My Farmer next to our 24 row planter
As you look at the planter, you can see that there are 24 rows and two large tanks or bins on top of it.  These tanks or bins are called seed hoppers.  Each hopper holds 50 bushels of corn, so our planter holds 100 bushels at a time.  We fill those hoppers with our seed tender.  Many farmer are switching to seed tenders from the traditional bag.  Just think, when we fill our planter we could use the seed tender to put in 100 bushels of corn, or we could life up 100 bags.  Which would you rather do???

Seed Tender that carries bulk boxes of seed
I also wanted to give you an update on "my backyard":

As you can see, you can clearly see the corn from a distance now.  The corn is now in the later V1, early V2 stage.  This means the plant has one leaf with a visible collar and is about to have two leaves with two visible collars.  A collar is a light colored collar-like band located at the base of the leaf blade.  The key to determining what stage corn is in during vegetative development is to look for the collars.  First look at this plant and you might say it has three leaves, but when you look closely, you'll notice only one visible collar.

If you enjoy see our corn grow each week on my blog, you might be interested in watching a live "Corn Cam" on the DMACC (Des Moines Area Community College) campus.  I heard about it this week on the radio.

Stay safe this spring.  Next Farm Friday I'm planning on talking a little on GPS and Auto-Steer.  If you have any questions email or tweet me!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Rules of a Farm Wife (Spring Edition)

I thought about doing a blog for a couple years before I actually started.  One of the main reasons I thought about doing a blog was to share my thoughts and ideas on how to survive the planting and harvest seasons with other farm wives.  Today, I'm going to do just that.  I'm going to share five "rules" that I try to follow, especially during the planting season.  These are meant to be fun and at the same time give helpful hints to have a happy spring.
  1. Text Message.  Find out information and details from your husband through text messaging during the day.  You husband stays busy fixing equipment, driving tractors, giving directions to hired help, etc. and sometimes a phone call takes too much time for him or happens when he doesn't have an extra hand to answer it.  If he wants to talk, he will call you (which there are times he will call just to chat and see how things are going with you).  I personally only call My Farmer if I absolutely need an answer from him right away.  If you both have Blackberry phones I recommend using Blackberry Messenger.  This program allows you to see if they have read your message or text.  (My Farmer and I both now have Androids but I enjoyed this feature when we use to have Blackberry phones.)
  2. Downtime.  When your husband comes home, especially when he's been gone from before sunrise to late at night, it is easy to start talking to him as soon as he comes in the door about the kids, things that went wrong during the day, funny stories to share, etc.  Instead, take a breath, greet him with a hi and tell him that it is good to see him.  A kiss is always good to give him too!  Then give him at least five minutes to decompress from his day.  Then ask him how his day went and ask him how you can help him.  Also, avoid asking your husband to do any chores or honey-dos, avoid correcting your husband over something, and avoid using sarcasm (he might be too tired to catch on).
  3. Food.  Always have food available in your home that can be taken on the go or ate at home.  Also, have food supplies around to be able to feed just your family, or an entire army of hired help.  My Farmer also enjoys having thermoses of coffee in the morning and bottled pop and water in the afternoon and evening, so I always keep a good stock of bottled beverages and gather thermoses from pick-ups and tractors.  My husband also likes to eat a little something when he comes home late at night, so I always have a few things he can choose from.  I recommend to bake, make or buy his favorite foods.
  4. Laundry.  Not that you aren't keeping up on laundry throughout the year, but especially keep up on his laundry during busy seasons like spring planting.  He could start the day needing a sweatshirt and by the end of the day be wishing he was in shorts.  Make his life as easy as possible at home by him not having to dig through laundry to find something to wear.  Have clothes folded and available for him to easily find and get.
  5. Compliment.  Your husband is working really hard during this season, so be sure to thank him for working so hard for your family.  Tell him that you are so happy to be married to him and that you feel lucky to be his wife.
The old saying is "Happy Wife, Happy Life," well I think the saying should be "Happy Farmer, Happy Life." I realize it doesn't rhyme but I couldn't figure out how to make charmer or armor work...  Anyways, just remember to take it easy on your husband during this time of year.  Put yourself in his shoes.  And above all, pray for wisdom for being his wife and safety for everyone working hard on the farm.

Happy Farmer, Happy Life

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Back in the Field!

After being out of the field for almost a week due to rain and wet conditions in the field, we officially got back into the field last night!  My Farmer, LP and I did some spring tillage and I couldn't help but take some photos as the sun set on us.

The forecast looks good this week to get more field work and planting done.  We are about half-way done planting corn as of today.  It'll be interesting to see how much me progress this week.  Be sure to check out my blog on Friday for my Farm Friday update!

If you look closely you can see both My Farmer and LP's  shadows in the tractor.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Farm Friday

This week we have been loading in and out several loads of hogs and trying to get some planting done between rains.  Due to the rain, we have only been able to be in the field two days this week.

Here is a picture of some of the pigs that arrived this week.  We start raising the pigs after they have been weaned from their Moms (sows).  At this point they are usually 10 to 14 days old.  We get most of our weaner pigs from farrowing (birthing) farms in Canada.

Welcome to my backyard!  Here is a picture of the corn in the field that surrounds our acreage.  This corn was planted on April 17th.  This stage of development for the corn is called VE (Vegetative Emergence).  If you look closely at the photo you can see the start of the first leaf of the corn plant.  After the Vegetative stages in corn, corn has Reproductive stages.  I'll continue to document the growth of the corn "in my backyard" each week of the growing season.

LP loves being outside and this week we weren't able to be outside as much as we wanted.  So LP moved his step stool over to the window in the living room and used it to look outside.  He would stand on it for over a half hour at a time just talking and waving to our dog, the trees, rabbits, birds, etc.  As you can see in the photo of our dog Bailey, LP would have gotten really dirty playing outside most of this week!  Now I don't mind and actually encourage LP to get a little dirty, but I draw the line when our dog looks half black, half golden.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

World Book Night Wrap-Up

On Monday night, I attended an "After Party" for those that participated in World Book Night in North Iowa.  It was great to share and hear everyone's stories about giving away books during World Book Night.

As I mentioned before, I gave away copies of Friday Night Lights and other assorted book titles to my church youth group.  One book was for them to read and one was for them to give to a friend.  I also had a few left over books that I gave out at the area Hardee's restaurant that night.  Those that I gave the books to couldn't believe I was giving away free books!  After hearing from other book givers, this seemed to be a common response.

There were many neat stories shared on Monday night.  I'd like to share a couple of them.

One giver gave a book to a friend that had been through a rough patch lately.  The friend felt so touched to receive the book and she got started reading the book right away!  The friend hadn't remember the last time they'd read a book and really enjoyed reading again.

Another giver gave their books out at an area nursing home.  Everyone at the nursing home was very greatful to receive the books.  There was even one lady that cried; she was unable to go to the library as much as she'd like and it was a great joy for her to have a new book.

There were over 100 books passed out at the local movie theater in honor of World Book Night.  Many businesses and groups partnered together to show the Hunger Games that night, along with passing out copies of the book.  Those that helped out at the movie theater said the neatest thing about the event was that before the movie started, all you could hear were pages of books being flipped and all you could see was bent heads of people reading books!

I really enjoyed being apart of the effort this year and plan on doing it again next year!  I hope you are inspired to participate next year.  If you are interested in receiving updates about World Book Night - April 23, 2013 click here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Happy May Day

Happy May Day from my family to yours!  I always remember making May Day baskets with my sisters and Mom when I was growing up for the neighbor kids (which meant we drove around a five mile radius to deliver them).  We would hop in the car, drop them off, knock on the door and run to the car before anyone could catch us, that way we wouldn't have to be kissed by any of them!  Since LP is kind of old enough to do it this year, we made May Day baskets for three of our neighbor kids.  We also helped make May Day baskets for shut-ins and members of our church in nursing homes in Sunday School this past Sunday.  Making the May Day baskets was a fun thing to do for our neighbors and members of our church.  If anything results from them, I hope it at least makes everyone smile.

By the way, no kissing occurred during the delivery of the May Day baskets!