Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday's Favorite Farm Recipe

Ahhh, yes, chocolate.  Nancy, this weeks recipe contributor, knows my weakness.  Of course she came through with a family recipe for Devil's Food Cake.  Nancy said I need to mention that this is Aunt Ag's (that is short for Agnes) recipe. 

Devil's Food Cake

     2 cups sugar
     1/2 cup shortening
     2 eggs
     1/2 cup cocoa
     1/2 cup hot water
     1 cup milk
     1 tsp soda
     1 tsp vanilla
     2 cups flour

Mix sugar and shortening.  Beat eggs and mix with the sugar mixture.  Dissolve cocoa in hot water and add to the sugar and egg mixture.  Then add the remaining ingredients.  Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.  Frost with chocolate frosting.

Nancy and her husband, Rod, are corn and soybean farmers.  They farm with Rod's parents and his brother as well.  Nancy did grow up on a small farm and her dad owned a farm implement dealership for many years.  One of Nancy's hidden talents is her ability blurt out tidbits of information on Ford tractors and Kawasaki Mules.  She always amazes me with what she will come up with.  It's good to have a friend that will surprise you every once in awhile.  :-)

Nancy and crew getting ready for a great
day at Legoland California.

Nancy is an accountant by training but these days she stays busy running after kids.  Rod and Nancy's three children are just starting to get to that age where they are involved in all sorts of school and church activities.  But, I'm sure she will find time to make them chocolate cake!

Thank you Nancy for sharing your recipe this week.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Week . . . So Far

Sunday was a beautiful day.  The Joe and the boys mowed, aerated, and fertilizer the lawn.  We started the picking up sticks and other "winter trash" around the yard.  Before we knew it we had enough for our first fire and brat roast of the season.

The weather was amazing!  Usually we don't get to the fire pit until after the soybeans are in - sometime after Memorial Day.

Monday, we were back to reality with a high temp of 39F and showers.  But, we were still able to deliver seed between the rain drops. 

Tuesday and Wednesday were extremely windy.  I told the boys to put rocks in their pockets so they wouldn't blow away.  They didn't see anything amusing about that.  We did get our seed treater up and running and did treat some beans.  Yehhh, it works!!!

We have been working on our bulk soybean and seed treater system for so long.  It's a relief to know it all works.

I will be posting more on this in the near future.

The mild winter really helped out the alfalfa stands.  I have been hard pressed to find a field with noteable winter kill.  While son #1 was at track practice #2, #3 and I checked out a neighbor's alfalfa field.

Any thoughts on when first cutting will take place?
For you nonalfalfa producers out there - Alfalfa is a perennial plant.  In northeast Iowa, we typically take 3 or 4 cuttings a year off of an alfalfa field.  Typically the first cutting takes place mid to the latter part of May. 

Today, is another beautiful day - a little windy and cooler than what we have gotten accustom to the past several days - but still a great day to start anhydrous ammonia application!

Who knows what Friday will bring.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday's Favorite Farm Recipe

My friend, Glenda, is this week's recipe contributor.  Glenda grew up in Barrington, Illinois - a suburb of Chicago, however, today she is a livestock farmer in Northeast Iowa.  So, how does one get from the burbs to rural Iowa?   Glenda's family had a farm in Wisconsin, that they visited often when Glenda was growing up.  Glenda knew she always wanted to be a farmer.  But, cruise director schooling and art classes called.  Then, one day Glenda and her husband Keith (He's an architect) were watching Orion Samuelson on the US Farm Report after watching a clip about feeding cattle they looked at each other and decided they could do that but better with their own twist. 

Today, Glenda has her own Red Angus cattle herd, hogs, goats, sheep, and chickens. Glenda and Keith direct market their products to the consumer.  During the  farmers market season Glenda and Keith along with their two teenage stay very busy selling and delivering!   Glenda is contemplating artesian cheese production.  I definately want to be one of her taste testers! 

Here is one of Glenda's favorite recipes.

Three Cheese Pasta

     1 (16 oz package) ziti pasta
     2 jars Alfredo sauce
     1 cup sour cream
     1 (15 oz container) ricotta cheese
     2 large eggs
     1/4 cup grated Parmesan
     1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
Preheat over to 350F.  Cook and drain pasta as instructed on package, stir together Alfredo sauce and sour cream; toss with pasta.  Spoon half the pasta into lightly greased 9X13 baking dish.  Stir together ricotta cheese, eggs, Parmesan cheese.  Spread evenly over pasta mixture.  Spoon remaining mixture over ricotta cheese layer; top with mozzarella.  Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes.

Thank you Glenda for sharing your recipe and pictures of you lovely red angus ladies!

I can't resist another picture of one of Glenda's cows.  She has some
of the most beautiful red angus I have ever seen.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy 1st Day of Spring!

We started spring out with a bang last night with a thunderstorm.  It was quite appropriate - a nice spring thunderstorm to wash away all the winter yuck and scum.  It was a warm rain that hopefully pulled more frost out of the ground.   A few of the neighbors started applying anhydrous ammonia yesterday with varying opinions of how dry the soil was and how good of job the applicators were doing.  Last night's rain should help the soil suitability so when things dry out again nitrogen application should go pretty well.

Number 3 and #2 enjoying some late winter weather.
This is definitely not normal! (I mean the weather not the
brothers playing catch)
During the past week we have been enjoying typical May/June weather.  We have had warm weather in March before but I don't remember it lasting so long.  It makes one wonder what April and May will bring.  Sunday, son  #3 and I were in the van going to pick up son #1 from a Sunday School project  when we had the following conversation. 

     "Mom, it's still winter you know."
     "Yes, you are right."
     "Is hot weather in winter normal?  I'm not as old as you so I don't remember many winters like you
     "Well, how many winters do think I remember? "
     "Probably 80 or 100"
     "How old do you think I am?"
     "42" (Smart kid - Mom is older than that)
     "Well, hot weather like this isn't typical of March winter weather."
     "If it's this hot now what is summer going to be like?"
     "I don't know.  A lot depends on what La Nina does."
     "Who's La Nina?"
     "It's actually what is La Nina.  La Nina is the cooling of ocean waters off the west coast of South
      America.  And it actually can effect our weather way up here in Iowa."
     "Oh, I thought maybe she was God's wife."
     "Nope it's a weather thing."
     "So who's God's wife?"
     "God doesn't have a wife"
     "Yes, he does."
     "No, he doesn't."
     "Yes he does because He has a son."
     "Well, you're right Jesus is God's son...."
     "God has to be married because you can't have a baby unless you're married.  So who is God's
      "I think that would be a good question to ask Pastor H on Wednesday."

You never know what questions will pop up from strange weather.  I love the logic of a 7 year old. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Daisy's Calf

This morning we woke to a new baby calf!  Daisy, Son #2's cow, had her calf early this morning.  She had a little bull calf (a boy).  After a lot of discussion between the brothers, #2 decided to name him Winter since it is the last day of winter.

Daisy and Winter this morning.

Winter & Daisy this afternoon.
All of the animals on our farm are 4H projects.  Since the boys are the owners they do take pride in their animals and new babies are always exciting.  When #2 did chores last night he reported that Daisy of the cows was starting to act different and she was holding up her tail.  So, we all marched out and  agreed that Daisy was going to deliver soon.  Joe and I visited her around 11 pm and decided that she would deliver in the morning.   The boys were out bright and early this morning to check on Daisy and like #3 said - It's Christmas!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday's Favorite Farm Recipe

Meet Darcy Dougherty Maulsby

I met Suzanne when we were both in Class IV of the Iowa Corn Growers’ I-LEAD ag leadership program. We have a lot in common, since we’re both Iowa farm girls who know our way around the field and the kitchen.
Darcy & Suzanne in Seoul, South Korea, on I-LEAD mission trip.

I grew up on a corn, soybean, and swine farm in west-central Iowa, between Lake City and Yetter. Now I live just a mile south of the Century Farm where I grew up and enjoy having the opportunity to help run the field cultivator and the combine.

Since 2002, I have owned my own marketing/communications company ( and work with ag clients around the world. I help them with everything from magazine articles, advertorials, sales materials, and newsletters to feature stories for their websites. I also help out with photography and video assignments.

I also love to cook, so when I’m not at my desk or in the field, you’ll find me in the kitchen. Since I have a sweet tooth, I love desserts and have included recipes for some of my favorite treats in this blog. I invite you to follow my updates on Facebook at and on Twitter at

Grasshopper Fudge Cake

(This is so good that you may not be able to stop with just one piece!)

1 box white cake mix (plus water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box)

2 teaspoons mint extract or crème de menthe

12 drops green food color

1 to 2 jars (16 oz each) hot fudge topping

1 container (8 oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed

Thin rectangular crème de menthe chocolate candies, unwrapped and cut into pieces, if desired

Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Spray bottom only of 13x9-inch pan with baking spray with flour. Make cake batter as directed on box, adding 1 1/2 teaspoons of the mint extract with the water. Reserve 1 cup batter. Stir 3 drops of the green food color into reserved batter; set aside. Pour remaining batter into pan. Drop green batter by generous tablespoonfuls randomly in 12 to 14 mounds onto batter in pan. Cut through batters with metal spatula or knife in S-shaped curves in one continuous motion. Turn pan one-fourth turn; repeat cutting for swirled design. Bake as directed on box for 13x9-inch pan. Run knife around sides of pan to loosen cake. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Carefully spread fudge topping evenly over cake. In medium bowl, stir whipped topping, remaining 1/2 teaspoon mint extract, and remaining 9 drops green food color. Spread whipped topping mixture evenly over fudge. Garnish with candy pieces.

Darcy, thank you for sharing your recipe with us.  I can't wait to try it myself.  By the way, I really like the chickens on the dish washer. 


I definately need to make this cake!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fuel Tax Increase - It's a Good Thing

Well, maybe it's not a good thing, but it is needed.  Monday morning the Clayton County Corn Growers met with the county supervisors and engineer to discuss the state of our county roads.

Here are the facts: 

     Clayton County is responsible for 1100 miles of roads -
                                                                   200 miles paved
                                                                   900 miles crushed rock
     Clayton County has 256 bridges
                   Most were built in the 1930's and 40's and are 16 to 20 feet wide
                  10% of the bridges are in Critical need of replacement
                  30% of the bridges need to be replaced

      Clayton County's 2012 FY road budget is $7.6 million
                  This has not changed drastically in 10 years

Clayton County is very similar to every other rural county so I'm sure the above info could apply to 75% of the counties in Iowa. 

Our county road department personnel are doing their best to keep up the roads.  However, the dollars available are not enough to improve the roads to bring them up to 2012 vehicle standards.  Last week during the warm weather frost started to come out of the roads.  This caused the roads to become soft, spongy, full of holes, and dangerous.  Last week, in Clayton County, there were Class A roads that were impassable with cars. 

Right now in the Iowa state legislature there is a bill (SF 2224/HSB 547) to increase the fuel tax.  To anyone who has driven down a rural gravel road in Iowa this past week this is most likely a no brainer.  But, here is some more information for you to consider.

The Senate proposal (SF 2224) would increase the state fuel tax by five cents in January 2013 and five cents in January 2014.  The House version (HSB 547) would increase the fuel tax by four cents in May 2013 and four cents in May 2014.  This would add $600,000 to $700,000 to Clayton County's road budget when fully implemented. (I'm sure it would be similar for other Iowa counties)  It takes almost $300,000 to resurface 1 mile of two lane road. 

The road use tax fund is a constitutionally protected fund.  The fuel taxes will be used only on our roads so the public know the money collected will go only toward the intended purpose. 

The fuel tax is the only source of revenue available that is contributed to by people who do not live in Iowa, but use our roads.  This acts as a "user fee."  About 13% of the state's road use tax fund money comes from the fuel taxes paid by out-of-state drivers.

Contrary to popular belief farmers do pay fuel taxes.  A farm vehicle license plate is not a license to be tax free. 

These proposed bills would not only improve our infrasture in Iowa but also add jobs to our state!

Thank you to the Iowa Good Roads Association for some interesting and eye opening statistics and the Clayton County Supervisors for your insight.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I have written about Walmart's Great For You food promotion.  If you need a refresher go back to my February 8th blog entry. 

Here is another point of view by Alan Newport, Editor of Beef Producer - a publication through Farm Progress.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday's Favorite Farm Recipe

The family still has the crap and crud and sinus infections (actually the stuff is making it's second lap through the family).  So today I'm putting up one my kid's favorite recipes for when they are sick.  It is one major comfort food.  I like to give credit where credit is due but I don't remember from which magazine I clipped this recipe.  All I know is that it is easy and good!

Rice Pudding

     1 cup whipping cream
     3/4 cup sugar
     1/2 cup uncooked white rice
     4 cups 2-percent milk
     Cinnamon and orange zest for garnish (optional)

Heat oven to 325F. Combine all the ingredients, except the garnish, in a 2 1/2 quart casserole (low and wide is better than tall and deep).  Bake the pudding for 2 hours without stirring.  Let it sit half and hour to set.  Serve the pudding warm or cold, garnished with the cinnamon and/or orange zest, if desired. 


Thursday, March 8, 2012

USA: World without farmers - One Hungry Planet

                                Happy Ag Day!!

Thank you to all the American farmers that keep my family fed, clothed and running down the road.  Without you it would be one tough life.

Thank you to BASF for making this video.  It's been around for a year or so but I still like it!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday's Favorite Farm Recipe

This week's Favorite Farm Recipe was by far the most popular chocolate at the Friends of the Elkader Public Library Chocolate Fest this past December.   Diane, this weeks contributor, was not sure how well the recipe turned but thought she should bring it to the Chocolate Fest just in case we needed extra chocolates.  Boy, was she in for a surprise - it was the hit of the Chocolate Fest!

Diane has been a farm wife since 1958.  Diane and her husband Roger were high school sweethearts.  They were married in 1956.  Diane said that their intended marriage caused quite a stir in the area as she was not yet done with high school.  They had to go before the school board of all things to get permission to marry!  Diane and Roger heard more than once that their marriage would never last.  But, 56 years later I think they are going to make it. 

For two years Diane and Roger lived in Rhode Island, while Roger served in the Navy.  Then, they moved to Roger's home farm in Clayton County, and were dairy farmers for the next 40 years.  (Roger's grandfather bought the farm in 1908.)  They raised Holsteins, hogs and two sons.  Today, they have grandchildren spread from here to Colorado, and two great grandchildren.  Diane and Roger have enjoyed traveling over the years.  They have been to every state and beyond.  Diane also enjoys gardening, genealogy, and researching Clayton County history as well as the history of Clayton Center.  Yep, you guest it - Clayton Center is in the center of Clayton County! 

Diane looking over records in the Genealogy section
of the Library.
The Clayton County Genealogy Society has been very active over the years. The Elkader Library holds a wide variety of family histories, cemetery records, a collection of Geneaolgy records for Mallory Township, histories of schools in Clayton County, platt maps from various time periods, a surname cardfile for easy indexing of birth, death and marriage notices in the local paper and microfilm of the local newspaper from 1853 to 2002. The library also has a microfilm reader/printer and a digital microfilm reader that is capable of saving files to flash drives, camera memory cards and printing to a laser printer.

So, with no further adieu here is the Snickers Bars recipe that had everyone oooing and aaahhhing at the Elkader Jail House Inn in December.

                                            Snickers Bars
     1 cup milk chocolate chips                                4 Tbsp butter
     1 Tbsp shortening *                                           1 cup chopped peanuts
     14 oz caramels                                                   1 cup milk chocolate chips
     2 Tbsp water                                                      1 Tbsp shortening *

Melt in microwave 1 cup chocolate chips and 1 Tbsp shortening.  Spread in a foil-lined 8X8 inch pan and chill for 15 minutes.  Melt caramels, water and butter; pour over first layer.  Add peanuts on top of second layer.  Melt 1 cup chocolate chips and 1 Tbsp shortening; pour over other layers.  Let candy firm up in pan.  Remove from foil and cut into 1 inch squares.  Enjoy!
*Diane uses Crisco shortening

Diane and Peggy (another Friend of the Library) busy
working during the Chocolate Fest
Diane, thank you for sharing your recipe and part of your history with us!