Life on the Farm – April 28, 2017

Tags

, , , , ,

Bunny ears…on Easter…haha

Black N Gus’ Mowing Services

We’d much rather the kid learn to handle electricity than mow the backyard ourselves!

Lean in & hurry up. The mowers will be MOOOving our way soon!

I had a hose for 3 seconds and somehow sprayed myself in the face. Ugh!

She heard some people over cook pork.

Fueling up. So they can keep PlowingThroughLife…

Instruction time.

Getting in position to apply what we’ve learned.

The automatic grease gun Joe’s always dreamed of.

Life on the Farm – April 16, 2017 – Happy Easter!

Tags

, , , , , ,

I got a baby and a 4-Her in the same winter.  I know how the baby showed up, but I’m clueless about how the little farmer got to third grade already?  He bottle fed two Holstein calves that are two months old.  We are working on training them to walk with us.

I hope we’re better at taking care of this calf than taking selfies!

See me wearing the baby? She and the calf are ON AN ODYSSEY…lol

Now boarding the #StruggleBus

Compliance training fail #54…for calf and baby.

Poop happens. Somebody’s gotta clean the barn, might as well do it in your own style. #Fashionista

Loaning out the farm hat is a consolation prize for having to stay inside with mom and work.

My Grandpa is a farmer too. He was born in West Virginia.  #MyRoots  #NuffSaid

The little girl shrieked louder than the air brakes when I turned them on and off to test them for Joe.

#Troubleshooting #Maintainence And then I over heard one brother say to another brother, “Even an IDIOT trucker knows that.”

I’m pretty sure somebody stopped by just to get my father-in-law worked up and try to make him feel behind. #RelaxPeople

Some people say the line that “Barns protect animals” is just big ag rhetoric.

Where eggs are made the eggs at hunts are hard boiled. #ThrowBack

Life on the farm can be noisy. Live prepared.

Life on a farm – April 9, 2017

Tags

, , ,

making feed for fair calves

Mixing feed by hand. 80% whole corn and 20% supplement. Applying the fractions learned at school to feed the fair calves!

Lately I’ve been really excited about finding more farmers to share pictures and stories about life on the farm on the internet. Yet I live on a farm, have pictures and haven’t done a great job at sharing myself. Let’s see how long this lasts 🙂

The calves are learning to wear a halter and walk with humans. Compliance training for all.

32nd birthday

Happy Birthday to the best turkey farmer we know. When you get this old you celebrate with a big cake and milk 🙂

We kicked off our visit to Joe’s family farm with a delicious birthday cake made by his mom.  In the background you can see some of our stuff.  We are at the stage where packing and unpacking may take as long as the trip.

That’s the youngest brother, looking on as the adults put a long auger back together.

The little farmer climbed a ladder to watch the auger rebuild from the roof. Then one of Joe’s brothers took away his ladder.

Baby princess in a farm shop.  It’s never too soon to learn how to do maintenance work.

First Gator ride

Shut yo mouth boy!

 

How to Remember Loved Ones

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

I’ve been asked a few times lately for ideas about how to remember someone who died too young?  How do we pass on their legacy, their personality, their character, to children who are too young to remember them?

I appreciate friends who got a nice journal and asked people to write down stories for my Little Farmer.  He was only four months old when his biological dad died.  I appreciate the family and friends that wrote a story about Mark, a way that he interacted with them, a special memory, something that Henry can learn from, and see in himself when he is older.  Pictures, memories and special belongings are the only things that we can give.

I know that it was difficult for most people to participate, but I’m truly grateful for those who did.

I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to marry Joe.  He comes from a large, loving family.  Right around a year ago he lost his young, healthy, cousin to amniotic fluid embolism during the birth of her first child.  Unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity to get to know her very well, but she made a positive impression on me and I want to share that story with her son.

Here is a story that I will write in a journal and give to her family this holiday season.  I’ve been praying for them, but I also want them to have a tangible reminder that she is not forgotten.

how to remember loved ones

Dear William,

I am so grateful that that I had the opportunity to meet your mom.  Even though I didn’t know her well, she made a positive impression on me.

I come from a small family, so going with Joe to large family gatherings was a bit overwhelming at first.  Your mom was one of the people that would always go out of her way and make a point to say “hi” to me.  She always welcomed me with a warm, friendly smile.

The example and effort that she put into being warm and welcoming to strangers is what Jesus calls us to do.  That’s how He asks us and shows us how to treat people.  I’m so grateful you have a Christian foundation to build your life upon.

I understand that life isn’t fair and often doesn’t go as we expect that it should.  I know that it will hurt to learn what you’ve lost, but my prayer for you is that you will focus on all that you have.  You have a biological mother that really wanted you and loves you dearly.  You have a family here on earth that loves you deeply.  And most importantly you have a Father in heaven who loves you more than words can express.  Put your faith in God and He will guide and help you as He has Henry and me.

Love,

Jennifer

How to Make Toy Round Bales of Hay

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

Our Little Farmer loves to carpet farm.  He loves activities and making his own supplies for the farm.  So, when we visited an older friend who has a farming set-up that little boys dream of in his basement we knew we needed some homemade round bales of our own.

how to make toy bales of hay

Our friend gave instructions to buy a wooden dowel rod.  We purchased a 3/4″ dowel rod and another one that was 11/16″ or 5/8″.  My recommendation is to take a plastic bale that is the desired size with you to the store and match it up to the dowel rod of your choice.

We cut those dowel rods to the desired length.  We made sure they fit inside the small round baler before cutting the entire rod.  Then the Little Farmer and his dad sanded the corners of each bale.

The most difficult step was finding the Krylon “Make it Stone” paint.  Our friend had found some at a local Ace Hardware.  We learned that even if the product isn’t on the shelf, some stores can order it for you.  We also learned there are at least a few shades of green in this special paint.  This paint really gives the bales a more realistic texture.  Even little farmers know real bales of hay aren’t smooth.

Krylon make it stone spray paint

Krylon make it stone spray paint. We found ours at Ace Hardware.

making toy bales

We talked about how to spray paint and I gave a demonstration before the Little Farmer took over.

spray painting hay bales

He might have missed a few spots, but I believe that you learn by doing!

Henry had fun painting the bales on his own.  He missed a few spots, but he got more practice painting and he enjoyed “making hay.”

Gender Reveal Party – Tractors or Tutus?

Tags

, ,

I’ve been a bit quiet on social media and my blog over the past few months because all of my energy has been focused on getting the basics done.  One of the new basics has been growing a baby!  We are all very excited by the anticipated addition!  When the Little Farmer found out that he’s going to be a big brother he immediately responded, “I’ve always wanted somebody to play with!”

My energy has returned, and I’m excited to share pictures from our gender reveal party.  We are so grateful to my mom and sister-in-law who threw us a most excellent party!

balloons on streamers

Balloons on streamers made cute decorations and fun games for the kids during the party!

We preferred the idea of a gender reveal party over a shower because it was easier to convince men they should come.  We enjoyed the all inclusive party!

Gender reveal with balloons

We used these balloons for decorations and let go of the color that we wouldn’t need during the gender reveal.

My sister-in-law made some cute, yet simple activities for the guests to enjoy before the big announcement.

tractors or tutus

Stock photos printed and attached to clothes pins served as an easy way for guests to vote boy or girl

The decorations were cute and functional!

large diaper cake

Gender neutral baby shower diaper cake.

diaper bouquet

diaper bouquet

Pieces and parts to a diaper bouquet. These are super cute centerpieces for a gender reveal part or a baby shower.

small diaper bouquet

Seven size 2 diapers were rolled individually and a wide ribbon was tied around the outside. The paper flower was stuck in the top.

When my mom is involved there is always food…lots of good food!  We got BBQ pork from GFS and cooked it in a roasting pan as well as heated up pre-sliced ham for sandwiches in a slow cooker.

Here is the table on which she spent the most time – the dessert table!

pink and blue cakes

How about these amazing cakes?

baby shower dessert table

My mom made an amazing display of desserts for the crowd to enjoy!

Guests brought a package of diapers or wipes.  Some people count their wealth in cash, but we’re at a point in life where we count our wealth in diapers.  We feel really rich after this party 🙂

man with burp cloth

One of the turkey farmer’s good friends got him this burp cloth. The friend said what several thought – he didn’t know if he would ever see Joe like this 🙂

Here’s a pic of the drink table.  Everything was so cute!

drink table

Blue Hawaiian punch and pink Countrytime lemonade made cute drinks to go with the pink and blue gender reveal theme

one year old playing with ice

I’m one and I can do what I want!

Even some of the guests were cute.

The big party revealed that we’re expecting a girl!  We’re grateful to all who came and celebrated.  We have so much to be grateful for!

Why Do Politics Matter?

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Most of us have been frustrated by politics, especially this election season.  Regardless of how irritated we may be, a recent trip to Washington D.C. with a group of Young Ag Professionals, reminded me how important it is to be involved in the political process.

US Capitol Building

Ohio Farm Bureau group of Young Ag Professionals and AgriPower participants by the United States Capitol Building

Since we need money to live, we all have a job, or receive some other sort of assistance.  Either way, our income and lifestyle can directly be tied back to decisions made in our nation’s capital.  As a part of Ohio agriculture, I can directly see how the Farm Bill and regulations affect our family’s business and income.  The Farm Bill is written, debated, re-written and passed on Capitol Hill.  One of my favorite sessions on this trip was hearing from staffers on the Senate Ag Committee share how they are involved in creating the Farm Bill.

Senate Ag Committee

Senate Agriculture Committee staffers explaining the Farm Bill process to our group.

We had multiple speakers to discuss how trade deals are written, negotiated, and passed.  Trade is a critical issue to agriculture and to my family’s small farm.  We visited the French Embassy to learn about trade agreements with the US from their perspective.  Since we are least cost producers, free trade benefits domestic agriculture.  There are far more mouths outside of the United States than inside of our borders.  So, as we look at opportunities to grow markets for agricultural products, increasing exports (via trade agreements) is a huge component.

Our group spent time at the American Farm Bureau office to learn how to have a successful meeting with our Congressperson.  We were given an overview of hot agricultural topics, and we planned who in each group would discuss each of these issues with our elected officials.

The following day we took a tour of the United States Capitol Building, and then we met with our elected officials or their staff.

On our final day we visited the United States Department of Agriculture to learn about young farmer programs and discuss trade agreement implementation.

OFBF Group by USDA

Ohio Farm Bureau group in front of the US Department of Agriculture

A resounding message that I heard from many of our speakers is how much they want to hear from us.  Our elected officials, their staff and agency employees actually want to hear from us, the people that their decisions and policies affect.  We need to stay abreast of the issues that affect us and communicate with our elected leaders.  A personal letter, e-mail, or phone call about an issue that is affecting us can make a difference.  Each vote can make a difference.  I was reminded that each voice matters!

Why Should I Go To Church?

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

I’ve been offended going to church with my husband.  He’s been offended at the church I used to go to.  We’re not often offended by the messages, it’s typically the people. They say and do some of the darnedest things to unintentionally turn us away.  We could list the wrongs and find people to rally around the cause, but we think the time and energy is better spent sharing the good.

We understand that we’re all human which means Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  We understand that we are some of those imperfect humans with flaws, so we try to extend grace to those people that may rub us the wrong way and keep going.  We also understand that we would miss out on so much, and so many people would miss us if we didn’t go to church.

Here’s a couple reasons to overcome some of those frustrations and go back to church:

1 – We do fun stuff at church.  This summer my Little Farmer went to Vacation Bible School in the evenings and the theme was about climbing Mount Everest.  So he and some friends dressed up like mountain climbers one evening.

why should i go to church

You can see by the bibs he’s wearing that whatever the task at hand he still thinks about farming.  They had a lot of fun pretending, learning and playing.  And VBS was free!

church is fun

Church is fun!

2 – My biggest challenges in life are not the actual tasks that I’m assigned to do, rather understanding how to work and communicate with people to effectively get them done.  My Little Farmer is learning some of these skills at church.  Even though he reads scripture at church that we’ve already read at home, there is value in group study.  I recall lessons from other people (not my parents or family) that really stuck with me throughout life.  The more positive people, positive exposure and positive connections that my Little Farmer can have the better!

3 – My biggest challenges in life are not the actual tasks that I’m assigned to do, rather understanding how to work and communicate with people to effectively get them done.  I learn how to do better in these situations when I really open up my heart and mind and apply what I learn at church.  Sure I want my kid to learn and do better, but I can’t minimize the tremendous personal growth that I’ve had gathering with others either!

4 – God created a tremendous support system.  When you attend church regularly, interact with the same group of people, and build relationships over time, they’ll start to notice if you’re missing church.  And they may check up on you.  They may ask about your struggles and be a friend.  They may be able to offer help.  As you grow and are strengthened, you can return the same favor to other people.  Church is a great place to foster the chain of love.  I’ve personally experienced great help and love from the support system at church!

5 – Last, but certainly not least, is the eternal perspective.  Attending church helps me keep my life in perspective.  Worship helps me remember what a small part of a big plan that I am.  I learn how big our God really is.  I learn about eternity.

Our Family’s Connection to the Underground Railroad

Tags

, , , , ,

The Little Farmer has been learning about Underground Railroad at school this month.  Wouldn’t you know as we planned a visit to the Turkey Farmer’s grandma he shared that she lives in a house that was part of the Underground Railroad.

underground RR house

This house was a stop on the underground railroad

Great Grandma Osterholt was proud to share the history.  She shared that the current kitchen and garage were later additions to the house.  So the first part of our tour was this cupboard in the hallway behind the current kitchen.

kitchen shelves - underground railroad

Kitchen shelves – used to keep up normal appearances.

Nice set of shelves right?  What woman wouldn’t enjoy some extra storage, regardless of her era in history?

Then she shows us the hallway.  The pictures make this fact difficult to observe, but these shelves were only half the depth of the hallway.

secret room clue

Pay attention to find clues of secret rooms

Next she shared some more nice shelves in her bedroom.  I’ve been in several older farm houses, so I know that having this much storage and built in shelving is unusual.  The top couple shelves are actually removable.  In the corner was a small chain on a dumbwaiter type tool that was used to move people from the ground floor to the attic.  The attic was windowless and had a short ceiling, so you wouldn’t suspect this house to have two usable floors.

secret passage in underground railroad

The shelves in the background are removable and they were used to help move slaves to freedom.

Grandma O said there was a ledge around the upstairs where the slaves would sit and wait.  She shared that the house didn’t have stairs until her family added them in order to access the additional space a bit easier.

She also showed on the other side of the bedroom, opposite the “shelving” a black cap that appeared to be to a cistern type unit right outside the window.  The cover actually led to an underground tunnel out to the adjacent field.

underground railroad tunnel cover

The black cover appear to lead to a cistern, but actually lead to an underground tunnel that was part of the underground railroad

Great Grandma Osterholt shared that the Hawkins family owned this farm and operated the Underground Railroad.  The farm’s address is Portland, Indiana.  She also noted that one of Indiana’s first senators had the last name Hawkins and a Portland address, so there might be a connection?

I can’t even imagine the hardships slaves faced.  I also can’t imagine the nerves of steel that would have been required to cover up helping and hiding slaves in their trek to freedom.  I’m grateful to have learned about this small piece of history.  I’m grateful that Great Grandma O shared a piece of history with our family and gave us permission to share the stories and pictures here.

Large Farm and Small Farm Comparison – Making Animal Feed

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’m often asked questions about farm size.  People want to know are large farms or small farms better?

We have a second grader in the house.  While I certainly understand that some education standards require comparing and contrasting to learn to recognize differences, comparisons also make me uncomfortable.  So, we’ve had many discussions in our house that bigger, newer and shinier isn’t necessarily better.  In my job I want to have the same conversations and share that bigger, new, shinier isn’t necessarily worse.

Large & Small Farm Comp

There are pros and cons to every size and type of farm.  I’m blessed to live near my parent’s farm.  They have about 20 mother pigs (sows) in a birth to market (farrow-to-finish) pig farm.  I’m also very blessed to be married to the Turkey Farmer who also grew up raising pigs, 3,000 at a time.  While we were dating he also worked in the purchasing department and tested ingredients at the feed mill that made food for his family’s turkeys and pigs.

I’ll begin by sharing how my family makes feed for our pigs.  My husband helps my parents now, so he is pictured here with the feed mill.  I went to the local feed mill and picked up bags of supplement. The Little Farmer and I helped untie the bags and move them to the back of the truck.

opening bags of soybean meal

Opening bags of soybean meal or supplement

The Turkey Farmer and a helper dumped the supplement (primarily soybean meal with two paper bags of vitamins and minerals) into the feed grinder.

dumping soybean meal into grinder

Dumping bags of soybean meal into the grinder

Next the tall, blonde and handsome man backed up to the grain bin (filled with corn grown in the surrounding field) and filled the grinder with corn.

filling grinder with corn

A batch of feed is two tons.  The hammer mill in the grinder worked hard to crush and grind the corn while the mixer stirred the corn, soybean meal, vitamins and minerals together for 15 to 20 minutes as the corn trickled in.  Including the trip to pick up the ingredients it took about an hour to make this batch of feed for nursery pigs (age four weeks to 50 pounds).

unloading feed from feed grinder

They are unloading the batch of feed into the bin on the nursery barn.

This is the feed mill where the Turkey Farmer worked in Fort Recovery.  The large silver bin stores the corn.  There are other silos, bins and containers to hold bulk versions of the soybean meal, vitamins, minerals and other ingredients at this mill.

Cooper Farms Feedmill FR

Cooper Farms Feed Mill in Fort Recovery

Here is a picture inside his office where (he had Margarita Mondays) or tested batches of feed to be sure that they had the protein, fat, fiber, and moisture levels that the nutritionists expected each batch to have.

blenders in feedmill office

He used the blenders to grind up the feed into even smaller particles.

NIR testing machine

This is a fancy feed testing machine that is very precise. Only high volume facilities could afford a device like this

Here, feed is made in 6 ton batches.  The mixer was loaded in a few minutes and there was a 6 minute mix time (1 minute per ton).  The capacity of this facility is several thousand tons of feed per day.  There are many more recipes that change frequently as animal size and nutritional needs change.

large feed mixer

Large feed mixer

There are several employees at this location including feed truck drivers, maintenance people, administrative roles, technology support, clerical jobs and general labor needs.  This farm doesn’t grow any of its own feedstuffs; they purchase all of their inputs from local farmers and companies when possible.

on top of the feed mill

He got special permission from his boss to take me up on top of the feed mill.  I have no need to go up there again, so we captured the moment with a selfie!

The bulkiest input is corn which is grown by local farmers in these fields surrounding the mill and beyond.  Several of these farmers are contract growers (like my in-laws) with hogs, turkeys or egg laying chickens for Cooper Farms.

panoramic view of farmland

The view was beautiful atop the feed mill.

aerial view of farm land

Making pig food on different scales is like shopping for our own food at a warehouse store versus a smaller grocery store.  When you buy in bulk you typically save money.

In his previous job my husband focused on details.  He repeated and perfected a handful of tasks.  In his current role his schedule is far more varied and he has to know a lot more about a lot more stuff.  He’s really smart, so he’s good at whatever he does (as are most farmers I know).

I’ve shared the highlights of making nutritious feed for pigs on a small farm and large farm.  Both farms focus on feeding a quality feed product to their pigs so that they can make a quality food product, pork, for you!