Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Guest Writer Today

The following Letter to The Editor was written by a member of the 4H club to which my kiddos belong.  It's great to see a young person take the initiative and express her concerns and ideas.
Thanks Shana!

Many kids show livestock at the county fair every year, whether they show ducks, chickens, rabbits, goats, sheep, hogs, or cattle.  After showing at the fair, some members choose to sell their animals.  Because 4-H is a program that is here to teach life-skills to the next generation, a lot of livestock exhibitors choose to sell their project animals at the sale the Monday after fair.   Every year a sale is put on by the Clayton County Extension Office and a group of local auction houses.   

The auction is a great way for us to learn how an auction works.  As we raise our market animals, we learn how to feed and care for them.  The reason market animals are raised, of course, is to go to market.  Selling our exhibits at the fair gives us an idea of how an auction really works, and all exhibitors and their families are able to meet with the buyer afterwards. 

Our problem that we face is with the buyers.  The buyers we get, we are very grateful to.  But because our buyers are so few, animals are going for regular market price or below.  Being a showman at the fair myself, it is discouraging and disappointing that my cattle can be sold for such a low price after all the work put into them.  All of the animals at the fair have been custom grown and finished to be shown; this means that very, very, special care has been given to these animals so that they can reach their full potential in both quality and quantity.

Potential buyers in the community believe they face several problems.  Many are afraid to buy an animal because they will not be able to utilize all of the meat.  Simple solutions to this problem have been found.  For the smaller animals (chickens, ducks, and rabbits) the buyer can send the animal home with the exhibitor.  Then their money will be given to the exhibitor who will use those funds for projects for next year or pay off previous animal expenses.  For the larger animals, families have been known to get together and pool their money in one animal.  Two or more families can buy a steer, hog, goat, or sheep, and split the meat. 

There is also the choice to take your animal and re-sell it at a sale barn.  This brings us to another concern .  Transportation.  This one is easy to fix.  Volunteer trailers  take your purchased livestock to the local locker or sale barn of your choice.  There they will be processed or re-sold.

Help us encourage our local youth to stay involved in agriculture.  Let this be a learning experience for both the members of Clayton County 4-H and yourself.  Join us on Monday, August 6th at 9:00 a.m. for the annual Clayton County Livestock Auction!

Monday, July 23, 2012

9 Days to The Fair!

The count down is on to The County Fair! 

#2 giving Hersey a bath.
#1 feeding his laying hens
Since big brothers are busy with 4H projects #3 decides to get in
the act with his Erector set.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sweet Corn

Just so every one is on the same page - we grow field corn.  Field corn is the corn we make our living from.  It's used as animal field and ethanol.  We do have an acre patch of sweet corn.  Some days I'm convinced that this little patch gets more attention than all of the other acres we farm.  Today was one of those days.

We have a few more days before the sweet corn is ripe for eating but the raccoons have been checking the patch just like our boys so Joe deemed it was time to put up the electric fence.  What else does one do on a hot, humid Sunday afternoon?

Pounding posts

#1 and #3 getting electric fence supplies around

Just a few more days and sweetcorn will be on the menu!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Saturday Video

A great video for everyone to watch at least once.

Thanks Mr. Bormann for sharing!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thursday's Thought

I am back after a few busy weeks.  I'll have to tell you about our Memorial Day weekend sometime.  It was eventful.

These looked so good on the grill I had to take a picture.

And, they tasted wonderful!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Is It Over Yet?

It has been a crazy, crazy 13 days!  We finished up planting on Wednesday, May 16th, only to start replanting soybeans yesterday and today.

 Everyone is tired. 

I put up a few new videos.  If you are interested take a look on my Virtual Farm Tour tab.

Maye it will rain Sunday.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mothers Day!

I'm wishing all mothers a great day whether you're spending it with your family at home or in a corn field somewhere!  Take time to enjoy those around you and know that you are appreciated and loved.

What a great day for Grandma Nus' iris to blossom!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Saturday Afternoon Pit Crew

Corn and soybean planting continue on.  It was a good week once the soil dried.  Dad stopped at home to refill the corn planter and fuel up the tractor.  We were caught up in the seed warehouse so everyone pitched in to get the planter filled and greased up.  

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday's Favorite Farm Recipe

I do not know anything about sheep but I wanted to highlight a recipe that includes lamb.  In our corner of the world there are a few sheep farmers.  Lucky for me some go to our church so I convinced Glee and Ron to be this week's recipe contributors and pass on a little insight into their family and sheep operation.   I'll let Glee and Ron take it from here. 

Ron and Glee in Hawaii.  No, that is not their backyard in Iowa.
I am not real comfortable talking about myself but I will try. I grew up on a dairy farm south of Monona. I really appreciate the work ethic of farmers and being able to work out in nature. I helped with chores on the farm growing up and worked with Ron side by side for about 20 years before I started working off the farm.
I attended college at Winona State University and have a BS degree in education. I started going with Ron my senior year in college and we married a year later.
I enjoy reading. I started making baby quilts and really like that but haven’t made too many yet. I am a BIG sports fan. Go Packers and Cyclones! I enjoy watching NASCAR too. Mike is our son. He is a 4th grade teacher and basketball coach. Beth is our daughter and married to Karsten. Beth is an RN and works at the Community Hospital. They have two sons, Jackson who is 4 and Tristan, who is 2. They are the light of our lives. Talk about wrapping someone around your finger. They sure know how to do it. But it sure is fun.
Glee and Ron with their grand boys.
I really don’t consider myself much of a cook. I of course make meals but would rather bake than cook. In the stew recipe I put about anything I can think of in it. If the spice looks like it would work, in it goes.  Glee
We have about 175 ewes that we lamb every year. They start lambing in February and we finish by planting time so the work load goes well with our farm.When we wean them the lambs go on self feeders and finish them out for sale starting in August. They will weigh about 135-140 pounds .The ewes go to pastures where ever we find some small lots, like several neighbors yards and around their building sites. We usually have about 7 –8 different places for our ewes. We sell most of our lambs to Phil Yocum from Mable MN, we have been doing business with him and his Dad for about 20 years. They also do our shearing witch we have done about January 1st. The sheep business has been good for our family and we really enjoy the sheep. 

The lamb stew is awesome.  Ron
Lamb Stew
1 nice sized lamb roast
several potatoes
vegetables of choice
seasoned salt
celery salt
Cool the roast and cut it up into nice pieces. Put in pot with chicken broth. Cut up boiled potatoes. Put in any vegetables you wish and the spices and barley. Let stew for a couple hours. The longer you simmer it the better it gets. Can also add a can of any type cream soup.
Thank you Glee and Ron for sharing your family and sheep business with us.  I have always wanted to try cooking with lamb but never had a recipe to work with.  Now I do! 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tuesday Thoughts

This morning one of my favorite children's authors passed away.  Maurice Sendak was the author of Where the Wild Things Are, In The Night Kitchen, amongst many other books and he was also an illustrator of books such as Little Bear's Visit and A Hole Is To Dig.  In Suzanne's list of great authors, Maurice Sendak ranks right up there with Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss. 

My Grandma Nus was a high school librarian and books were an always for birthdays and Christmas. (I'm pretty sure I got my book obsession from Grandma.) She must have liked Maurice Sendak as I have a nice little collection of Sendak's work.  In The Night Kitchen was one of my favorite books growing up.  Mickey swimming in a bottle of milk always amazed me.  And, Oliver Hardy as bread bakers was pretty cool too.  I didn't realize there was so much controversy about the anatomically correct Mickey until I had kids of my own. But, that hasn't stopped me from reading this book over and over again to the boys through the years. 

The mix of fantasy and reality was the draw for me.  Mickey yelling at everyone to be quiet so he can sleep (I remember doing that especially during family vacations in hotel rooms because sister Nancy would be breathing too loudly.) and then ending up in a bread dough airplane are things that intrigue kids.  And, there is something about the goblin and the cave in Little Bear's Visit that is a little dark and scary.   I asked Son #3 why he liked to read Where The Wild Things Are and his response was, "I like Max's tail."   Enough said.

This past weekend Son #2 announced that he didn't want "the little kid books" in his room any more.  Since the weather hasn't cooperated to get back in the field to plant we had time to sort and clean.  We sorted, culled and moved the "little kid" books into #3's room.  This morning I went looking for the Sendak books but they weren't in #3's room.  They were back in #2's room along with the Shel Silverstein books - so much for "little kid" books.

I did not know a lot about Maurice Sendak beyond his work as an author and illustrator of books.  However, after reading different news articles, I suspect Sendak was one of those fortunate people who could make a living doing what he was most passionate about.  For him it was being a book artist. 

Today, is the first day that farmers in this area have been able to plant since April 27th.  Over, the past 10 days seed customers and neighbors have been coming and going, picking seed, and going over farm plans.  It's interesting seeing the passion that these individuals have towards farming.  The age of the farmer, the number of years farming, and size of the farm have nothing to do with this.  Maybe it's because in farming career and family over lap?  Or, is it because so many people rely on the farmer for food, fuel and clothing?  Or, is it because a farmer knows he/she carries a lot or responsibility for taking care of land and livestock?  I'm don't know the answer but I'm glad that farmers have this passion.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Friday's Favorite Farm Recipe

"Remember June Dairy month is coming, but dairy is great all the time!" says Leslie, this week's recipe contributor.  Leslie and her husband Trent are dairy farmers here in Northeast Iowa.  When I was thinking about what I wanted to write about Leslie, three things came to mind - Holsteins, 4H, and Iowa State University.  To be quite honest I can't write about one without including the other two.  Leslie and Trent are Iowa State Dairy Science sweethearts.  Leslie is originally from an Illinois dairy farm, but being a smart lady she came over the the light side and graduated from Iowa State.
Leslie, Leah, Matt and Trent with one of their gorgeous cows.

Leslie and Trent were also both very active in 4H while growing up.  And, of course dairy cattle were part of the 4H experience.  Today, Trent and Leslie have an extensive embryo transfer program and have cows and bulls all over world!  In the summer they stay busy with tour groups visiting their farm. 

Leslie and Trent have passed these same passions on to their children.  Leah and Matt are both majoring in Dairy Science at Iowa State.  Last summer Leah was the Clayton County 4H intern and this year Matt is the intern.  I credit Leslie, Trent and Matt for cultivating Sons #1 and #2's interest in dairy.  Leslie, Trent and Matt have been great coaches for the county 4H Dairy Judging Teams as well as the 4H Dairy Quiz Bowl Teams.  Their passion for 4H and dairy is contagious and appreciated!

Matt showing at the World Dairy Expo last fall.

Leslie is sharing a cheesecake recipe today.  I love cheesecake. Cheesecake should be considered another food group.  If I take time to snap a picture of this cheesecake when it comes out of the oven I'll post it, otherwise know that it is wonderful and I'm busy eating cake!

Almond Cheesecake

 1 1/4 c crushed vanilla wafers
3/4 c. finely chopped almonds
1/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. butter, melted

4 8oz. packages cream cheese, softened
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 t. almond extract
1 t. vanilla extract

2c. sour cream
1/4 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
1/8 c. toasted almonds

In bowl, combine crumbs, almonds and sugar; stir in butter and mix well. Press into the bottom of a greased 10 inch spring form pan; set aside.

In large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in extracts. Pour into crust. Place on baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until center is almost set. Remove from the oven; let stand 5 minutes(leave oven on). Combine the sour cream, sugar and vanilla. Spoon around the edge of cheesecake; carefully spread over filling. Bake 5 minutes longer. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour. Refrigerate overnight.

Just before serving, sprinkle with almonds and remove sides of pan. Refrigerate leftovers.

Serves 14 to 16

Thank you, Leslie, for sharing your recipe!

Matt and Trent giving Son #1 pointers before showing
at the World Dairy Expo in Madison.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Rain, Rain Go AWAY!

We had four good days of planting last week.  Unfortunately, we were chased out of the field early Friday morning and have not been able to get back in since then do to rain and cold. While we can't plant there is still plenty to do from catching up on paper work to hauling corn to the barge terminals.

Here are some pictures of what we have been up to while we wait for Mother Nature to get the rain out of her system.
Dad loading a semi with corn to deliver to the river market.

Talking about crop protection products
with DuPont reps.

Derk & Travis getting ready for the next shot at planting.

Bruce from Iowa Corn stopped to vist about planting
progess in Northeast Iowa.  We are about 30% planted.

If is would stop raining now we could probably be back in the field
Friday afternoon.  However, the weather forcasters say we are
going to be getting more rain and storms this evening.

The last week in April is the sweet spot for planting corn in our area.  Since we have lost this week to rain there will be a mad dash to get the crop planted as soon as possible. 
Joe can multi task.  He can mop the floor
and talk on the phone at the same time!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday's Favorite Farm Recipe

We are now into Day 5 of the planting season.  It has been a good week so far.  The seed warehouse and office have been my domain this entire time so I have not had the opportunity to highlight any great recipes for this week.  Any one who knows Joe and Suzanne knows that in the spring just about everything other than planting is put on hold. 

If you have a recipe you think is worthy of the Farm Favorite title please send it to me in the comment section of this blog entry and I will put it up on this site tonight.

Thanks for your understanding!


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Aaaand They're Off . .

. . . like a herd of turtles.  Yesterday we started planting corn and soybeans.  Joe and the guys had been testing and checking all of the monitors and computers in all of tractors the past few weeks so when the soil dried,
Joe setting up one of the planter's monitors
the rain stopped and soil condition were good we could get planting.  Well, Monday was the day to start.  The guys got the planter loaded with seed and were getting ready to pull away from the shed when the GPS system on the planter tractor started wavering. 

Loading planter with seed corn.
So, the Joe, Dad and Derk sat in the tractor for the next two hours working over the phones with equipment suppliers trying to figure what was wrong.  Making a very long story short, eventually the GPS equipment started working and Dad was off to plant corn.

Yes, three grown men can fit in a tractor cab.
The GPS/auto steer was not working in the soil finisher tractor either.  That does not make Rollie happy but at least Rollie could still run the soil finisher. 

We use GPS equipment to run the shut offs on our planter.  You have to remember because of our rolling land we farm on the contour - meaning we farm around a hill not up and over.  This helps with soil preservation.  Anyway, our planter is 16 rows (40 feet) wide and when we plant on the contour Dad needs to be able to shut off rows quickly to avoid double and triple planting parts of a field and save money on very expensive seed.  With GPS, the computers on the equipment shut off and turn on the rows as need be.  We also do some variable rate planting.  This means we vary the seeding rate of the seed corn across a field based on yield potential and soil fertility.  This is also controlled by computers and the GPS equipment is necessary.

Trying to figure out why the GPS equipment won't work!

At one precision ag forum I was reading this morning there were farmers commenting on our same problem from Texas to northwest Minnesota and Kansas to Illinois.  At least we were in good company.  Our problem was geomagnetic activity.  Yep, it went right over my head as well.  What it amounts to is that the sun is messing with our planting season!  I am now signed up for Geomagnetic A-Index of 100 or greater, Geomagnetic K-index of 6, 7, 8, and 9 Alerts and Warnings through NOAA and the Space Weather Prediction Center.  Really.  I am not making this up. 

I have heard the phrase "A slave to technology" mentioned before.  I think we might be at that point. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday's Favorite Farm Recipe

Today, Son #1's track meet season starts.  Because of cold and wet weather there have been some meet postponements so the meet season is condensed down to three very busy weeks.  This recipe comes from #1's dietitian.  The power balls go to school with him for a mid-morning and a mid-afternoon snack so he is ready for track practice after school.  Son #1 has a very difficult time gaining weight and maintaining a good energy level, so we take every opportunity we can to get healthy calories into him.  It has become a favorite after school snack for all three boys. 

Energy Balls

1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 cup crushed graham crackers
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup powdered milk

Mix together and form into balls.  May be chilled or frozen.
Yield:  18 balls
Nutrition Info:  15 grams carbs each, 115 calories, 4 grams protein

I usually add in a 1/2 cup of chopped, dark chocolate chips to this mix.  This will change the nutritional makeup.

Go Central Warriors!!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Farmers Fight - Stand Up

Please take time to watch this video.  Talk about showing passion!

This video comes from the blog TAMU Farmers Fight -

There are several good essays on the blog written by TAMU students.  Each essay is from an individual's unique view and experience in agricultre. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday's Favorite Farm Recipe

I'm going to follow up Linda's recipe from April 6th, with another rhubarb recipe.  With the cool weather the past week or so the rhubarb has slowed down but there is still enough growth to keep Joe happy.  This recipe comes from the St.Olaf Country Cooking, Norway Lutheran Church, 1990 cook book.  I tried this recipe on a whim a couple of years ago and Joe proclaimed it the best rhubarb dessert he had ever tasted.  I'll let you be the judge on that proclamation.  I do know it is easy peasy. 

Rhubarb Dessert

4 cups rhubarb (sliced up)
1 (3 oz) package raspberry gelatin
3/4 cup sugar
1 pkg yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter (melted)
1 cup cold water

Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.  Arrange rhubarb at bottom.  Sprinkle dry gelatin over top.  Sprinkle with sugar and then cake mix.  Drizzle butter over top, followed by cold water.  Bake at 350F for 45 minutes.  Serve with whipped cream.  Enjoy!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

He Has Risen!

Mark 16:1-8
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?"
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
"Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.' "

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Friday's Favorite Farm Recipe

Spring is here - although I would say about three weeks early - flowers are blooming and the rhubarb is red ripe and ready for picking.  This weeks recipe contributor has a very timely recipe for all that rhubarb.

Linda, our contributor, is a native of Clayton County and a life long 4H'er.  Both Linda and her husband John were 4H'ers, their kids were all 4H'ers (I competed against the five oldest in the beef show ring during my 4H years), and now their grand kids are fourth generation 4H'ers (Yep, my kids compete against them!).  Linda says one of the highlights of working with her grandchildren with 4H fair exhibits is that as first year members they have all made a quilt using her grandmother's quilt blocks.  What a great family tradition and heirloom to carry on!  If I remember correctly, all of Linda's sons also had a sewing projects at The Fair as well.

Linda teaching another generation how to quilt.

Linda and John live on the farm that John's great-grandfather homesteaded in 1855.  They have three sons that farm and their grandchildren are carrying on that passion for agriculture as well.

Linda and John with their Valley FFA grandkids.

Linda is our county treasurer.  She is planning on retiring at the end of this term.  Her plans for retirement include lots of quilting, doing more 4H judging, catching up on house cleaning and perhaps doing some traveling.

Creamy Rhubarb Dessert

Crust:                                                                                 Rhubarb Layer:
1/2 cup cold butter                                                             4 cups sliced rhubarb
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour                                               1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans                                                     2 tbsp all purpose flour

Cheesecake Layer:                                                              Topping:
2 pkgs (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened                          1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup sugar                                                                        3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp. vanilla                                                                         1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs                                                                                   additional chopped pecans

In a bowl, cut butter into flour until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; stir in pecans.  Press into a greased 13 x 9 inch baking pan.  Bake at 350F for 15 minutes.  Combine rhubarb, sugar and flour; spoon over the crust.  Bake for 15 minutes.  In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Pour over hot rhubarb layer.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Combine sour cream, sugar and vanilla; spread over hot cheesecake.  Cook on a wire rack for 1 hour.  Refrigerate overnight.  Sprinkle with additional pecans if desired. 

Sounds good to me!  Thank you Linda for sharing your recipe. 

But, before I sign off I do have to share one more picture.  I finally figured out how the scanner works on my printer so now I'm a scanning maniac.  If you can't read the fine print it's a picture of yours truly with Linda and John's daughter Angie from just a few years ago.   Sorry, Ang, I could not resist.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Back At It

After a few days of wet weather we are back at applying anhydrous ammonia (To be known as NH3 from here on).  There are several forms of nitrogen that corn growers can use but in our farm operation this is the best source of nitrogen for us to use. 

Derk applying NH3

There he goes behind another hill!

We live in a livestock intense area
of Iowa so another form of nitrogen often used in this area is animal manure. 

Manure is a great source of plant nutrients because it contains not only nitrogen but also phosphorus, potassium, and several other essential nutrients required for plants to grow and produce.  Manure also adds organic matter
back into the soil - if you're a gardener you know how important organic matter is to the soil makeup. 

Just like animals are different so is their manure.  A sow's (a mom pig) manure has a different makeup than a pig being fed out for market due to the different rations they are fed.  So, the farmers actually send a sample of manure into a lab and have the manure analyzed. 

Here is an example of a manure analysis from Iowa State University:

Example Manure Analyses

Nutrients lbs/
1,000 gal
Est. 1st year availability lbs/1,000 gal
Ammonium Nitrogen (NH4-N)
Organic Nitrogen (N)
Total Nitrogen (N)
Phosphorus (P2O5)
Potassium (K2O)
Sulfur (S)
Calcium (Ca)
Magnesium (Mg)
Sodium (Na)
Copper (Cu)
136 ppm
Iron (Fe)
104 ppm
Manganese (Mn)
532 ppm
Zinc (Zn)
145 ppm
Total Solids
Soluble Salts (EC)
4 mmho/cm

Injecting liquid swine manure Based on a manure analysis like this, a farmer can determine how many gallons of manure to apply per acre of field to take care of a crop's needs. 

Manure can be considered liquid gold because of it's value to crops so a farmer wants to make sure that this manure is applied to fields that need the plant food.  This is much easier to do today versus a decade or two ago because of the technology available. 

As Joe says my agronomy geekness is coming through so I will end here.  However, if you would like more info about manure application check out Iowa State University's website:

Have a great day and be safe out on the roads.  There is a lot of farm equipment traveling up and down the roads and the farm traffic will only increase as we head into the planting season.