Third Time’s a Charm

Good afternoon and happy SPRING! It is officially planting season for our small cut flower garden. I was just looking back on the blog to see if there was a recap I could share from last year’s garden but I did not write one post about the garden! Not one! I am ashamed to say it was a disaster but I didn’t realize there was no documentation of last year’s garden so lets just pretend it didn’t exist… haha I am just kidding but I am not fooling anyone if I say it was a success! Wondering why my first year was so much better? Because last year slipped away from me, between wedding preparation, bridal showers, bachelorette party, Florida, work, and our honeymoon, I had zero time for the garden but third time’s a charm right? I can’t wait to get the garden bed prepped for this year but first we need germination!


We are a little late in the season for seed starting but better late than never. This year we are starting Snapdragons, Marigolds, Cress and Statice indoors with the grow light. March 16th was a beautiful day so we decided to keep the mess outside. Diesel loved rolling around in the yard while I planted seeds.


Both of my boys were there for moral support. As you can see, Tyler was thrilled to have his picture taken haha, I would say Diesel was a lot more corporative for this part. But shoutout to my husband for always being there for me!

I also have Rudbeckia, Sunflowers, and Zinnias to directly sow into the soil. Beyond flowers, we will be planting tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, onions and radishes.  I hope to post regularly about the flower garden. My goal is to showcase a few arrangements and maybe, just maybe we will have enough to share!


I can’t wait to continue learning! Trial and error is the best way to learn first hand and that is exactly what I plan to keep doing.

“A flower blossoms for it’s own joy,” Oscar Wilde.



Students Inspired to Help Pollinators

What a great weekend! The fun began at the 2019 Southeast District FFA Career Development Events where Megan and I judged for the first time, continued with our birthday celebration and concluded with Megan and Kyle’s engagement! It is hard to believe it is Tuesday already! With that being said, I have fun Ag in the Classroom lessons ahead of me! But before I log off and dive into this week, I wanted to highlight one particularly awesome activity  from last week!


Students at Harding Middle School were inspired to make seed bombs Tuesday, March 5th after learning about the importance of pollinators! Did you know 100 crop species provide 90% of the world’s food? Out of those 100 species, 70 depend on pollinators. According to the USDA, “pollinators play a crucial role in reproduction of many plants that provide our nations food, fiber, fuel and medicine.”


There are five main types of pollinators: bats, birds, butterflies, bees and beetles. We focused on the Honey Bee. Did you know bees can pollinate 95 different crops? There are three types of bees- worker, drone and queen! We depend on bees to help pollinate crops like chocolate, apples, melons and cranberries. Without pollinators, it would be impossible for these crops to reproduce. Not only do bees pollinate, but they produce delicious honey from nectar and we use beeswax to make candles, polishes and makeup.


So as you can see, pollinators are extremely important to agriculture! To help, students made seed bombs with a pollinator flower mix. Would you like to make your own? Seed bombs make a great Mother’s Day gift, weekend activity or summer project! Just roll a few seed bombs together and toss them somewhere outside in need of some color.

Five easy steps:

1. Mix 4 parts air dry clay (white or red) to 1 part potting soil.

2. Add water- just enough to make clay movable.

3. Add more soil if neeeded.

4. Spoon in flower seeds.

5. Roll into balls and let air dry!

Spring is right around the corner and pollinators will soon be buzzing around. Until next time Picking Wild Flower Followers!


The Real Youth Rodeos

Good morning! For those of you who don’t know me but might come across this post, my name is Morgan and I live in Johnson County. I am a 4-H alum and very passionate about the agriculture industry. We have a small cow-calf operation and I work in agriculture education. 4-H and rodeo livestock have some of the best qualities of life. It has been brought to my attention that there has been protests regarding the youth rodeo at the Johnson County Fair. I would like to paint you a picture of the real youth rodeo- not the animal abuse everyone is talking about- there are bad apples in every bunch but majority of farmers and ranchers care deeply about their animal’s well-being.

Johnson County has a long history of being one of the top livestock shows in the state. In recent years numbers have decreased but that is only to be expected with generations moving from the farm. That isn’t to say the passion is gone. Those involved in youth rodeo, FFA and 4-H animal exhibits radiate passion, leadership and community. I remember being too little to help with chores but always sitting next to Dad in the tractor waiting for the day when I could do the cow walk-through on my own… you see, I was begging to do chores and help on the farm when I was old enough to walk! It is hard to say the same about today’s youth.

I remember the day I turned 9 like it was yesterday! The day I was finally old enough to show cattle! I worked with my heifer and steers day and night! We would walk, wash and brush them. Chores often had me up at 6:00 am and out until 9:00 pm in the summer. That is dedication and hard work in my book! Those animals had the best life possible and even though we had to sell them at the end of the fair, I knew those animals lived a well-served life and their purpose to give us meat was a gift from them to us. God’s plan for creation was well thought out. If we care for animals they will in return provide for us.

Youth rodeo has the same principals… it is not teaching animal abuse. It is teaching youth to have leadership and a strong work ethic. It takes a unique person to get up in the middle of the night to check on a cow expecting to give birth. Rodeo has and always will be a family organization. Rural children look up to those barrel racing, bull riding, etc. Youth rodeo gives them a chance to be part of the story. It keeps youth interested in agriculture and learning about where our food comes from. Mutton busting attracts kids from all walks of life. They get competitors from the city, country and suburbs, and shows can draw hundreds of people.

Just remember if you don’t take care of your animals, you won’t have healthy animals ready for the rodeo. Taking care of the animal is a rodeo’s number one priority.

I understand there are different views but be sure to talk to those involved with the sport. There is always two sides to every story.



My Glass is Half Full of Cow’s Milk!

Was September really the last time I blogged? I have truly missed writing! I am hoping the holidays help me slow down and free up my time because I have a couple of blog topics I would like to get posted in the next couple of weeks and I hate going months without sharing stories about the farm!

Today’s post is not about our farm but it is about an agriculture topic I am very passionate about! I just uploaded a post on our Linn County Farm Bureau Education Outreach blog called Prairie Point Students Explore Milk and Milk Substitutes but I wanted to jump on my personal blog Picking Wildflowers and discuss the topic in greater detail.

milk 1

“To begin the lesson, we asked the following questions; where does milk come from, what is the definition of milk, what products are made with milk, and what kinds of milk can we buy from the grocery store? Students then had the opportunity to compare and contrast five samples of milk (whole, rice, almond, coconut, and soy milk) based on taste, nutritional value and route from farm-to-plate. Students discovered that there are many milk substitutes for those who have a milk allergy, don’t like the taste or choose not to consume dairy products but they also learned that the nutrition value varies from milk to milk meaning they can’t be 100% interchangeable” (Straight from LCFB post).


So what is all this hype and how can we know what nutritional value we are getting from milk and milk substitutes? I personally love cow’s milk! I love the taste and I love how it fuels my body. I bet most people believe I am biased being that I am so passionate about the agriculture industry but guess what? Almonds, soybeans, coconuts and rice are all agriculture crops! Meaning how can I be biased towards dairy cows when all of the others come from agriculture too? Now I am a strong believer that even though all five beverages belong on our grocery shelf, I do not believe they stack up in nutrition. Let’s look at the facts:







Vitamins and Minerals

vitamins.PNGConsumer trends show increased sales of plant-based milk substitutes between 2009 and 2015. Students discussed the possible reasons for the increase. We wrapped up the lesson with a question to ponder; does the word milk, a white fluid rich in fat and protein secreted by female mammals, mislead consumers if labeled on a plant-based substitute? And would we view the drink differently if it was labeled juice or beverage? #FoodForThought!

2018 Farm Progress Show Favorites

Dad mentioned he was going to the Farm Progress Show with Bruce and I jumped at the opportunity to tag along. I was even able to convince Tyler to take a day off work and I am sure glad he did! We had a blast learning about the newest innovations in agriculture.


It was a beautiful sweatshirt weather type of day with temperatures ranging in the high 60s, my favorite! My curiosity and interest peaked with each exhibit! Agriculture is a industry that is always changing and evolving to meet the needs of our growing population and consumer needs/wants.


My favorite exhibit was the bioreactor! I have been wanting to see one in person for a few years now! A bioreactor is a trench in the ground packed with material such as wood chips that allow colonization of soil bacteria that convert nitrate in drainage water to nitrogen gas. A bioreactor is just one conservation practice available to help improve water quality!


A few other highlights included the self-propelled hay baler, Tribine (a combine with a grain cart), Fendt Combine and the cattle handling presentations.

And the cherry on top…taking a photo at the Iowa State tent! First time visiting the Farm Progress Show as an Iowa State University graduate.


Hope to see you at the 2020 Farm Progress Show in Boone Iowa! Goodnight Picking Wild Flowers! I hope you get lots of zzzz’s!



My 4-H Experience

Hey everyone! I thought I would jump on here and write a response to Vegan News “4-H is a Terrorist Organization” video. I re-watched the video, this time taking notes. The number of false claims in this video is ridiculous! They begin the video by saying 4-H is a program put on by FFA. First off, they are two separate organizations. Then they go on to say that 4-H teaches us to lose our compassion for animals…which is just laughable because 4-H taught me to have more compassion for animals, people and the community! In Genesis 28 God gives to man authority over all that was created on earth. Man is to take care of and use the earth. Man is to have the authority over all that was created. This means that man is to assume the control and protection of all that God had created. We are to care for animals but ultimately they have been put on this earth to help meet our essential needs, just like vegetables, fruits, nuts, etc. That being said, let me share with you the life lessons 4-H has taught me. 40191_1478674540542_4796954_nI patiently (okay maybe impatiently) awaited for my 9th birthday! The year I could finally join 4-H! I participated by showing cattle, pigs and sheep. I also enjoyed working exhibits, photography and home improvement projects. My love and passion for agriculture is credited to my 4-H years. I discovered who I wanted to be when I grew up and 4-H is what led me to my interest in agriculture communications. 40103_1478688700896_258161_nShowing livestock opened my eyes to a whole new sport. All of the hard work, dedication and sweat was proof of my love and compassion towards my 4-H livestock. Yes, we do get close to the animals and yes it does get easier to sell them every year but no we do not lose our compassion. I would argue that 4-Her’s grow is understanding and respect year after year. Life is not easy and it comes with sorrow, 4-H teaches real life-lessons! 40191_1478674500541_3445617_nAnd it is not about the monetary value that the video describes. Showing livestock does teach youth about financial responsibility but the reward is not the check at the end. It is a added bonus if you have money to save but for most, it is paying for feed, paying for the initial investment or using the money to purchase an animal for the next year. The life lessons I learned about finances was tremendously helpful leading into college and adult life. 40191_1478674580543_5634249_nShowing livestock taught me responsibility. Waking up at 5:30 a.m. every morning during summer break is not a typical high school student’s routine but for us it wasn’t out of the norm. Our livestock needed fed, rinsed and walked twice a day. Show animals lead a very good life. In fact all of the animals on our farm are well taken cared of. 1914804_1417869820462_1672163_nBesides animal exhibits, 4-H taught me professional and communication skills through presentations and working exhibits. Unlike the video posted yesterday, I will stay on topic and not jab fingers. I will not put down veganism and I will not state judgement about another’s life-style.  18238776_10211760114472042_645110906933292167_o4-H youth are future farmers, doctors, teachers, engineers, designers, and innovators! My career journey started at age 9 when I signed up to show my first heifer “Carmel.” Yes I know how to spell caramel but my 9 year old self did not and that is okay! It is okay to be ourselves and that is exactly what 4-H taught me. 22008153_10213093511406132_8361227081800395016_nI now have the opportunity to work with youth everyday! Our Linn County Farm Bureau mission is to increase youth awareness on the importance of agriculture, agriculture careers and the benefits of agriculture throughout an individual’s life. 15027369_10210150646676353_5271233570585909426_nStay Farm Strong 4-Hers! Remember to be a leader in your community and don’t let what others say knock you down.  All thoughts are my own!



Here is the link to the original video:


Prepping for #HappilyEverHibbs

We are in the double digits people! The realization sunk in when I received an invite to my own bridal shower. I was like…wait this is for me! OMG I am getting married!!!


Wedding plans have taken over my life! This week was CRAZY!!! I am having so much fun planning and I wanted to give you a little sneak peak. 😉


Invites won’t be sent until September but last weekend Mom, Deb, Megan, Morgan and I all got together to hand write and assemble 160 cards. I can’t wait for you to see the design. I love them!!! Now to only get them to you!


Man I look sleepy in the photo below and we were only half-way done with invites!


Okay here comes the fun part! Tyler and I met with the cater on Wednesday to finalize our menu and boy does it sound delicious! I’ll give you a hint…what is cheesy, fattening and at almost every party? Heck yes!! PARTY POTATOES! And while we were meeting with the cater, we walked around South Slope and took note on how to decorate.


I even had my first hair trial this week! It was so much fun and I loved the end result. Of course I can’t let you see it but just know Chelsea kept describing the up-do as romantic and elegant <3!


Decorations are off to a great start! A couple weekends ago I transformed our garage into a paint studio and painted our card box and a few window panes. I am not sure if Dad even noticed the milk jug missing from his front porch haha.


And Papa! Papa has done a wonderful job with wedding decorations. I can’t wait to show you everything he has made from bushel baskets to a welcome sign and easel.


There is a lot going on and don’t let me fool you, it is certainly stressful at times. It is easy to get wrapped up in the details but I am trying to remember that ultimately it is a celebration of our marriage (uniting as one) and not a celebration of our wedding day. That being said, to say I wasn’t excited about our wedding day would be a lie but I am even more excited to start a life with my best friend!


Facing my Fears

Hello Hump Day! Do you know what that means? I go to the FAIR tomorrow!!! I am beyond excited for Youth and Farm Bureau Day. Be sure to stop and say hi if you find yourself in Central City! Getting ready for our two days at the fair has been no small task but before I began planning for the fair I prepped for my first public speaking engagement. Working with youth is within my comfort zone but presenting to adults had me facing my fears.


When Barb Lemmer, Linn-Mar Agriculture Educator, first asked me to speak during the National Association of Agriculture Educators (NAAE) luncheon I jumped for joy! What a great opportunity to speak with 60+ agriculture educators about our Linn County Farm Bureau Education Outreach Program. I saw it as a chance to encourage others to implement agriculture efforts within their own elementary classrooms. But soon the nerves sank in. I was going to be standing by myself in front of 60+ high school agriculture educators from Iowa and surrounding states.


Fears can distract us from reaching our goals and I don’t want my nerves to be my limit so I gulped down the butterflies and got to work creating my speech and PowerPoint.


Barb Lemmer sent me a note following the event that read, “agriculture educators had many positive comments and were energized to reach out to their local Farm Bureau to improve agriculture literacy efforts in their area.” I feel very honored to have been apart of such a great event! And who knows…I may have just sparked the start of another great Ag in the Classroom program. Facing my fears taught me to look at new opportunities with excitement and momentum. Besides the support of a great boss! I had the support of God behind me. It is in this verse that I found confidence.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear with signature

Who knows…maybe I will give public speaking another try 😉 Thank you for reading!

All thoughts on “Picking Wild Flowers” are my own and do not reflect Linn County Farm Bureau views.

3rd Annual Farm Clean-up Day!

Hello friends! It has been crazy over here! Between wedding plans and summer festivities it has been hard to keep up with my personal blog but tonight I want to spend a little time sharing the story of our 3rd annual farm clean-up day with you. 


Above is a photo we took this past weekend in Amana. We surprised Grandma Carol with t-shirts that say CJ’s (Carol Jean’s) Crew. Please keep her and our family in your prayers!

Okay back to the clean-up day! My oh, My! We accomplished a lot. Our farm dates back to 1913. We celebrated our Farm’s 100th birthday, the year I graduated from high school. Needless to say, there is some clean-up to do.


Megan and I began farm clean up days informally 5 years ago or so. We would come home for the summer and spend a few days cleaning the farm before our summer positions started. These short clean-up days made a difference but we wanted to do more.


And with the dream of doing more, the annual farm clean-up day was born! We dedicate a whole day to one or two major projects. Our first year, was also the first summer Tyler and I began to hangout. I didn’t scare him away…he must be a keeper ;)!


Most of you know we have cattle but did you know Grandpa Richard and Dad once had hogs? We have 1 large pig barn left standing but I can’t say the same for the one to the North. It went down in a storm a while ago and this year we picked this barn as our major project. It is so neat to learn about the history of the Ball farm!


For me, it is always emotional to take down one of the barns but I know it will keep our farm more productive.We worked out a pretty slick deal! We rented a large container for all of the metal and they dropped it off and picked it up. A huge shout out to Dad, Megan, Tyler, Jake and Grandma Pat for helping with our 3rd annual farm clean up day.


A couple weeks later we surprised Grandma Pat, with a new rock bed!


Welcome to the Ball Family Farm!


I want to wish Michael good luck at state this weekend! Can’t wait to cheer you on! ❤

Braving the Cold for Calving Season

By now I imagined I would be singing April showers bring May flowers but instead I am shouting April snow storms go away! But as much as I would like to curl up next to our fireplace…time doesn’t stand still and we have spring babies arriving!


It is important that farmers take good care of their livestock rain or shine! I feel very blessed to live only a few miles away from our farm. We try to help out as much as we can and it has been very busy keeping watch over our herd.


We have 18 bred cows and 7 have calved so we are patiently waiting for the other babies to arrive. During the cold and windy nights we give the cows and calves a cornstalk bale to lay on. We also have a wonderful old hay barn that we open up for the cows to use as shelter.

Once the calves are born we tag and band. Read a previous post about preconditioning to learn about the care we provide the calf when they are born.


Each cow is unique and we need to be cautious when handling their babies. The cows can be protective. It took a few of us to precondition the calf in the photo below due to the ma’ma’s concern, but we took care of tagging and banding him and he was soon reunited with the cow.


Do you have questions regarding calving season? Comment below!