Meal Prep Fun!

You guys!! Do you want to make life easier? Do you like wine? and Do you want to have a festive girls night? Swap meals!

I am set for winter!! I literally have some of the most creative friends. What a fun way to meal prep! I am now stocked with country casserole, enchilada bake, manicotti, and shepherds pie. Food to fuel my body and soul through cold and snowy days!

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Kendra posed this idea to us and to be honest I jumped out of my seat with excitement! I am always trying to get on the meal prep wagon but life gets in the way! Am I right!?!? So this was a super fun and easy way to get meals on the table all winter long!

Food is such a precious thing but it can be confusing. Picking Wild Flowers has been my outlet for sharing my personal story about food and agriculture.

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Yesterday I attended a Women in Agriculture Leadership Conference and I left with inspiration beyond words! I am so blessed to work in an industry that is so passionate about where our food comes from. We are all eaters and we care about how our food is grown and farmers do too. How awesome is it that we live in a country where we have freedom to do so?

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Everyone has different values but those values are what make us who we are. Some of us have the opportunity to choose foods and others have certain diets due to allergies, diseases, food intolerance, and values.

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Conversations have become one way! We often listen to respond and not to ask questions. We need to listen, ask, listen, ask, listen, ask, share.

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So what are your feelings about food?

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I Found my Man but I still Need my Girls!

This Friday the countdown begins! 365 days until our #HappilyEverHibbs wedding. Our wedding binder might be full with arrangements and my Pinterest board is overflowing but I could never have planned a better group of people to stand next to me as I say I do.

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Our bonfire was canceled at the last minute but the girls and I did not let that keep us from having fun. We had plans to decorate the bonfire pit with beautiful mums and pumpkins but despite the rain we still decorated the house and enjoyed games and conversations over pumpkin coffee and apple cider. Thank you to my wonderful family for decorating and hosting my party.

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Each and everyone of these ladies hold a special place in my heart! Megan, where do I even begin? You are and will always be my other half! We can finish each other’s sentences and I know what you are thinking before you even say it. As my best friend and twin sister we have been through every step of life together. Megan you are beautiful inside and out and I am so thrilled to have you as my maid of honor. I love you sis!

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Morgan and I have been best friends since elementary school. She is one of my biggest supporters and I can’t thank her enough! I am so excited to have you standing next to me as my second maid of honor. Ever since middle school acne filled faces, homecoming dances, high school graduation, and adult life we have stood the test of friendships and I know you are my besty for life.

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Kendra… oh Kendra! Girly you are such an inspiration and I look up to you every day. You are so driven and motivated! Thank you for always being there to listen and grant me advice! I am so excited to have you and Elizabeth part of our big day!

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Lydia! We might not talk every day but we always pick up exactly where we left off. We have so much in common and I love sharing a spiritual bond with you! Watching your walk with the Lord is very encouraging. I am so blessed to have you as a friend. Your kindness and smile is very contagious!

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Adriane 🙂 Chica our love for show cattle brought us together and carried us to the same college. I am so blessed to have you in my college memories and I can’t wait to make more memories in official adult life. Thank you for constantly making me laugh and for sharing wine/queso nights with me. I am so excited to have you as a bridesmaid!

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Kassie! We became friends in high school but have grown closer in the last few years. You spontaneous attitude keeps me on my toes but your loyalty has always meant a lot! We have so much fun together and I can’t wait to have you stand by my side.

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Laura… my beautiful cousin and friend! Growing up we were always together. Being so close in age meant we had a lot in common. You have such a kind heart and I have so much fun when we get together! Thank you for being my personal attendant! I feel so blessed to have your help.

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Katherine… Kate Walker! Remember our Cheetos, Mountain Dew and Buffy the Vampire Slayer days? You have always been someone I can have fun and relax with! We have a lot of fun high school memories. I love your spunky attitude and I can’t wait to have you as a personal attendant!

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The party could not have happened with out my Grandma Carol, Papa, Mom, Tami and Kerrie. Thank you for all that you did to decorate and host!

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Two more photos!

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Wondering how Tyler asked his groomsmen!? Ill just leave this picture here for you to glance at… 😉 hehe! #WANTED! Zach, Michael, Jake, Seth, Cherokee, and Lee!

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#HappilyEverHibbs

Let’s Talk Organic

Well hello beautiful Picking Wild Flower readers! It has been a while but I am back and I have a interesting and fun topic for the blog tonight. Let’s talk organic! Who eats organic food? Who eats conventional? What is the difference between the two? Tell me do you eat foods with GMOs? What does GMO stand for? How about foods labeled as natural or contains no antibiotics? Food can be confusing and let me tell you… I am no expert. I just recently finished up a eight week fitness course at Next Level Extreme Fitness in North Liberty (which I highly recommend by the way) and I was encouraged to examine food labels. I soon realized that I consume a lot of salt and sugar. Two ingredients that were hiding in my daily foods. I am not sure how I will go lower two such prevalent ingredients but tonight I substituted rice for cauliflower rice- it is a start 🙂

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I decided to write this post after mom and I had a very interesting conversation when I met her for lunch today. We passed the new organic co-op in Iowa City and both mom and I wanted to stop in and check it out but we decided that we didn’t have time and we would another day. I am a person who believes in all types of farming. I think we need diversity to create a sustainable environment that will produce enough food to feed 9 billion people by 2050. I also believe in supporting local. Local farmers help the community thrive. It also allows young and small farmers to have an avenue. But if you are going to shop at a food co-op or if you want to buy organic from your local grocery store, make sure you have thought about all of your reasons for doing so. Be sure to understand that the nutritional value of organic lettuce is the same as lettuce grown conventionally. Understand that GMOs are only in 10 food items: corn, soybeans, alfalfa, cotton, sugar beats, canola, squash, papaya, potato, and apple. If you buy green peppers that say non-GMO, it is a marketing scheme and they want you to pay more because green peppers don’t ever contain GMOs (currently… science is always adapting and it is possible in the future).

Buying meat that says never been treated with antibiotics just makes me plain angry. If a cow or calf is sick wouldn’t you do anything to make it feel better. Tyler and I took our proposal picture 2 weeks before our herd had an outbreak of pink eye. That same cow in the picture was treated with the two medicines shown and if we were to sell her for meat she would need to go through a withdrawal period. We are not selling her but even-so it has been already been a month since she was on medicine and just like humans it passes through the body.

What about GMOs (Genetically Modified Organism)? There are many benefits but to name a few: 1) the use of resources, some GMO corn crops can protect harvests in water-limited conditions better than conventionally produced crops. Other GMOs can also promote the use of no-till farming, which keeps more moisture in the soil. No-till also enables farmers to make fewer passes through the field using machinery, which means less fuel used and greenhouse gases emitted. 2) Fighting Pests and Disease,
Scientists are developing crops that look and taste the same as their non-GMO counterparts, but are resistant to insects and plant-specific diseases that can impact a farmer’s harvest. Plants with traits that protect roots from insect damage have an additional benefit of using water more efficiently. 3) Conserving Natural Habitats
GMO seeds can help farmers around the world meet the increasing demand for food by helping them make the most of their existing arable land, thus enabling them to preserve nearby habitats. (https://monsanto.com/innovations/biotech-gmos/).

Now lets dive into the label “Natural” for just a second and I mean a brief second… There is no standard definition for natural so what does it even mean?? I DON’T KNOW but it is supposed to be better for us… Humm…

I love discussing food so please ask me questions. I could talk about it all day!

Just remember that food is food and it is all about moderation. Don’t food shame!! It is not nice. ;P We need all types of farmers and I don’t have a problem with organic or conventional but I think we need to hear both sides and I believe we need both in our industry to make the agriculture world go round. Just be sure to read good quality articles and ask a farmer before you jump to believe every label you read.

Goodnight! Sleep Tight 🙂

 

Cattle get Pinkeye Too

Cattle get pinkeye too! Most years this is not a problem but just like when people travel… we occasionally catch an illness. That is exactly what happened to our 25 head of cattle. This year was the first time we rented the pasture up on the hill from my grandma. The cows were beyond excited to travel to their exotic new land! They went nuts! But with new territory brings new illnesses the cows aren’t immune to.

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We noticed a few cows had drippy eyes and while those few were in the pen being examined, the rest of the herd was catching it.

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Pinkeye is also known as infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis (IBK) and is one of the most common diseases of beef cattle. It is a highly contagious disease, causing inflammation of the cornea (the clear outer layer) and conjunctiva (the pink membrane lining the eyelids) of the eye. Being that it is very contagious the whole herd was at risk.

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Signs of pinkeye include wet, red, and irritated eyes. Often times the animal blinks or squints a lot and a small white spot will appear.
Image result for pinkeye in cattle

Image result for pinkeye in cattle

How does it spread? Pinkeye begins with irritated eyes. Tall grasses and weeds, dust, sunlight and wind can irritate the cow. Once the cow is infected, the disease spreads through face flies. The bacteria can live in the fly for four days.

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How do you treat pinkeye? There are a couple options to treating pinkeye. The first is to spray pinkeye spray into the cow’s eye twice a day. This is not very efficient if the cows need to be on pasture to eat. Spraying the cow’s eye requires getting them into the chute. The second option is to give the cow a shot of Liquamycin at the first sign of pinkeye.

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The antibiotic instructions are below. We gave each cow a shot of LA-200 according to the correct dosage/weight. Most of our cows weigh 1000-1500 pounds so you can see below we gave between 45 and 54 cc. The label also says to discontinue treatment at least 28 days prior to slaughter. If and when we decide to sell a cow, we are required to wait 28 days before doing so. The meat packing plant will check for antibacterial residue when they are slaughtered.

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The third option is to give the cows a shot of penicillin in their eyelid. This might seem painful but it targets the bacteria at the site of infection. Occasionally pinkeye can get so severe that it can cause blindness or can even be fatal. The fourth option it to spray the eye and cover it up with an eye-patch. Light can cause irritation and by covering it up it excludes the UV and eliminates flies from bothering.

We did the first and fourth option when we treated the cows two weeks ago but we were noticing the spread of pinkeye to other cows so this past weekend so we treated the diseased cows with treatments one-three. Pinkeye can be tricky to cure but hopefully we are finally ahead of it. Our main priority is the comfort and well-being of our livestock.

Dad said this was the time of year grandma and grandpa would go on vacation… not this year… our cows want to keep us on our toes.

Other resources:

http://www.beefmagazine.com/health/vets-opinion/busting-pinkeye-in-cattle-0401

http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/400/400-750/400-750.html

Our Proposal!

Our love story started a year and a half ago. I had moved back from Ames for the summer and was motivated to start running. Tyler’s parents live near Mom and Steve. I would often see Tyler hanging out outside. Everyday I continued to run past his house and again he would be working on his truck, hanging with friends, or just sitting on the patio. I have always been a big fan of his white truck and I asked about it to get his attention. It worked! Tyler would say our first date was to Kent Park but I wasn’t sure how committed I was at that point. But after our first official date to Phat Daddies… I had a good feeling about him. 😉

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And a good feeling it was! Here is the story of our beautiful, perfect, and completely appropriate proposal.

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Tyler asked me on Sunday if Zach and Rachel could join us for chores one night. I didn’t think anything of it because they had joined us earlier in the summer. On Monday night Tyler headed out to the farm to talk to Dad while I was at our Farm Bureau Annual Meeting. Tuesday was just a normal chore day or so I thought…as I was completely oblivious spraying the cows for flies.

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Tyler motioned over to Josie and suggested we spray her. I kind of blew it off and said I will in a minute. A second later he suggested it again so I was like fine lets head down there haha. To my surprise, Josie had something wrapped around her neck. I sped up to get a better look. I noticed the shape of the cow bell and assumed Dad was playing a prank on me. Josie is kind of an inside joke on our farm. She isn’t the most productive cow but she is the last cow from Grandpa’s herd and she holds a special place in our hearts. You can also tell from the photo that she is super wild!

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We got a little closer and I noticed writing on the front. I knelt down and read the words “Morgan Lee will you marry me?” I instantly got emotional! Tyler was on one knee by the time I turned around. I apparently was too shocked to stand back up after I read the cow bell because I am still on my knees in all of these photos haha.

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The whole moment was absolutely beautiful!! He put incredible thought into the proposal and having the cows involved meant so much to me. He knows me well!!

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A huge thanks to Zach and Rachel for capturing the moment. I am so happy to have photos to look back at. We couldn’t wait to tell all of our close family and friends but first we were treated to some ice cream!!

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We feel blessed to have so many wonderful people in our lives. Thank you to everyone who congratulated us on our proposal day! We are excited to announce that our wedding will be October, 2018.

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Bring on the love, happiness, excitement, and anticipation as we plan our fall wedding! I can’t wait to marry my best friend.

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#HappilyEverHibbs 

Fresh From the Garden

So this happened… we sold the calf that won Grand Champion Breeding Heifer at the Van Buren County Fair! Show Down here we come!

The Show Down is a compile of all grand champion livestock exhibits from five surrounding counties. Each year the top of the top compete for first place from those counties. We feel honored to have a calf representing the Ball Family Farm. A huge congrats to Madison! She worked very hard to get the heifer ready. Often times people don’t know just how much work goes into showing cattle. When Megan and I showed, we woke up at 6, rinsed, dried, and brushed the calves. At night we would walk and repeat rinse. Come show day, the calf is washed, dried, and groomed to perfection. Good Luck next week Madison!

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The steer we sold to Madison received 1st out of 10 in his class. 🙂

While we are on a path of good news… lets keep going

Checkout my flowers!!

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Zinnias, Zinnias, Zinnias everywhere- red, pink, white, orange and yellow.

Wait for it… we finally have something other than Zinnias. The Snapdragons are taking off like wild fire!

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I am so excited to make arrangements with two different flowers! I love my zinnias but  two is better than one!

There is nothing better than flowers fresh from the garden. Okay Okay… vegetables are pretty fantastic from the garden too haha.

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And for just for a laugh since that seems to be my mood.

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Yep she is yawning… or chewing her cud. Our cows are pretty wild let me tell you.

My teaching moment of the day. What is cud?

A couple weeks ago I wrote a post on ruminant animals called Got Guts . Cows chew their cud (regurgitated food) on an hourly basis. By bringing the hay back up they can re-chew it to then digest it again. Ruminants are able to take grass and utilize the nutrients from it to create energy.

Talk to you again soon 🙂

 

 

The Hardships of Farming

The hardships… stories farmers don’t like to talk about. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write this post but I think the world needs to know that farmers are people too and we make mistakes. Farmers are not perfect and I am not perfect. A couple of weeks ago my heart broke for one of our mama cows and her baby calf.

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We noticed that one of our new babies had scours. Scours is diarrhea that prevents the absorption of fluids from the intestines. Scours is common among new calves especially if the weather is nasty cold or scorching hot. We treat for scours whenever we see signs. Dad catches the calf and we give it a scour pill (Bolus antibiotic) which helps cure the diarrhea. Before dad left for vacation we gave this new calf a scour pill and put both the cow and calf in a pen close to the house.

Megan and I continued to check on the calf over the course of 24 hours. The calf seemed to be getting weaker and weaker. When the weather is really hot and calves are sick they tend to not nurse which results in dehydration. I gave the calf another pill by hand. Sometimes we use a wand called a pill pusher but the calf was pretty weak and putting the pill in his mouth wasn’t a problem.

Later on we went back to the house. I was looking over the bottle of scour pills and I noticed that they were expired. Usually one scour pill does the trick and I began to wonder if that was why the calf hadn’t seen any improvements. Tyler and I went to Theisen’s and bought new pills, a pill pusher and fly spray.

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Megan called to tell me that the calf wouldn’t walk very far. It was growing weaker by the day. She thought it was time to call the vet.

That morning I dialed the vet and told them what was going on. He advised that I try the new pills I had picked up and to give the calf some electrolytes. Electrolyte powder is like Gatorade. It should help keep the calf’s body hydrated. I thought I had all of my boxes crossed off. I picked up new pills, called the vet, fed the calf some electrolytes and called Tyler to see if he could come help give it a pill.

This time around I decided to try the pill pusher. Little did I know that there are two pushers. One for cows and one for calves. I had bought the one for cows… I had also bought the pill brand that Dad buys but instead of calf I bought cow. I might know what I am doing in theory but it is a whole different ball game when it comes time to purchase and act.

We got the pill stuck in the calves throat. At this point in the day I was hot, sweaty, and tired, but now I had a calf on my hands that was choking. I panicked. I started screaming, crying, and hyperventilating. I had know idea what to do. Tyler was rubbing the calves neck trying to encourage the pill back up but it was lodged to far down. I called the vet again and he said to bring him in right away. We backed Dads truck up to the field and loaded the 130 lb calf into the backseat. I hopped in and sat with him. Tyler drove us 40 minutes to the vets office. It was the longest 40 minutes…

The calf still had scours and was making a mess in the back of the truck but I didn’t care. I would clean it out later. All I cared about was the calf’s safety and health. All I kept thinking was this is my fault. In all my years of showing cattle, raising livestock, and studying agriculture; it has never been my fault. When we loss a calf it was due to natural occurrences. This was all my fault. Why did I not think to check for calf or cow pills? Why did I possibly think that pill pusher was for a calf? I thought I had all of the T’s crossed. But knowing what to do isn’t the same as actually doing it.

We got to the vets office and Dr. B looked down the calf’s throat. He couldn’t see the pill. He looked at me and asked if I would be okay with him doing a tracheotomy. The surgery only lasted 20 minutes and soon Dr. B was wrapping the calf in bandages. We went home with a two week old calf with a tube sticking out of his neck to help him breath. We put the baby back with his mom, but she began to lick his tube and we had to remove her from the pen. All seemed to be going okay and the chances in him surviving increased. We gave him a bottle and let him rest for the night. The next morning he was standing and walking around. I have never been so happy to see a calf walk!

But that night he seemed weak again. He was laying down with his head between his two front legs. He wouldn’t raise his head to eat. I felt so crushed. He was up walking around not long before. Megan and Tyler stayed to feed him the bottle and Dad and I went to check on the rest of the cows.

When we got back Megan and Tyler were outside of the barn. Their faces weren’t happy. The calf died drinking his bottle. Megan said he went peacefully. His breathing slowed and he stopped sucking. I was devastated. I have never felt so heart broken over the loss of a calf.

We put the cow back out into the pasture and buried the calf.

I was really hesitant to publish this post but I wanted all of you to know how much these cows mean to me. I would do anything to keep them happy and healthy. I have a lot of learning to do and after this instance I realize that fact even more clearly.

And on the 8th day God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker! So, God made a farmer!

 

 

Got Guts?

What is a ruminant animal? How many stomachs does a cow have? Can people digest grass? Linn County fair goers sought out the answers to these questions during Youth Day Thursday, June 29, 2017. This activity was designed based on the National Ag in the Classroom Matrix lesson “Got Guts.”

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A ruminant is a animal with a multi-chambered stomach. Cows have 4 main chambers- rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum.

To demonstrate the process kids digested their own hay with water, hot water and lemon juice.

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With each step came a new chamber.

  1. Cud, partially digested food from a ruminant animal which is regurgitated to the mouth for further chewing- “Chew” the hay and place in cup
  2. Rumen, good bacteria helps break down food- Add water and stir 
  3. Reticulum, sorts the particles and brings the large pieces back to be regurgitated in the form of cud- Pick out large particles
  4. Omasum, small chamber that helps with flow to abomasum- Add hot water and stir
  5. Abomasum, contains strong acids and enzymes- Add lemon juice and stir

ruminant hay

Starting with the dry hay and moving counter clockwise we can see the hay being digested through the 4 chambers.

Question: How many stomachs does a cow have?

Answer: One with multiple chambers! 😉

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Last summer I did a similar activity during 4-H vet camp and kids really enjoyed the hands-on portion of the lesson. This could easily be incorporated into a classroom. Make it a multi-unit lesson or complement another lesson by conducting this activity.

Would you like to see agriculture in your Linn County school? Contact mball@ifbf.org to schedule a classroom visit.

Month One

It is hard to believe that one month is already almost here and gone. I am learning and experiencing so much! Linn County has welcomed me with such kindness. What better way to kick off my summer than to attend the National Ag in the Classroom Conference?

As the Linn County Farm Bureau Education Outreach Coordinator, my goal is to increase youth awareness on the importance of agriculture, agriculture careers and the benefits provided by agriculture throughout and individual’s life by providing classroom visits, agriculture days, fair activities and Iowa Core aligned lesson plans.

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“Show Me Agriculture,” took place in Kansas City, Missouri. We made a detour on the way down to stop at Shatto Milk Company. I fell in love with the flavored milk and old-school glass jars. I of course had to try the coffee flavored milk ;). I bought two for the road! Our home has a country chic feel and the bottles add a nice touch.

First thing Wednesday morning we hopped on a bus to tour a few important spots near Kansas City. I always heard about the American Royal but we never had a chance to exhibit in the livestock show so this tour was particularly cool to see. It was neat visiting the museum and livestock arena. The education director showed us the livestock scale. The scale compares and converts human pounds to the equivalent weight in steers, hogs, and chickens.

Who knew there were so many ways to teach agriculture? I attended a few amazing breakout sessions. People from all over the US are just as excited about our future generations as I am :).

The session: Love of Cows and other Joys in Agriculture, encouraged participants to think outside of the box. Brainstorm with art and crafts- how might they be used to inspire and teach youth about where their food comes from? Kathleen shared with us her secrets to drawing the difference between a dairy and beef cow. Can you tell which one this is? Comment below if you have a guess. 🙂

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I had a first hand experience with making flour! It is such a awesome and simple idea! All you need is wheat seeds, 1 jar, and a pepper grinder. By placing the seeds into the grinder and making flour, many conversations are sparked. What foods can be made from flour? Who grows wheat? and What jobs are created from the production of wheat?

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Many other examples were captured in my journal but I don’t want to give away all of my new ideas! 😉 You will have to keep following to stay up to date!

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As everyone’s spirits were high and motivation was stirring, we were greeted and encouraged by Greg Peterson.

In 2012, Greg founded the “Peterson Farm Brothers” with his siblings. Together they agvocate for agriculture through parody videos, presentations, and blog writing. Checkout all of their awesome videos!!

Knee High by 4th of July

19030674_10212079687661172_4144279585153507858_nThe once true saying may be true for my delegate yet beautiful plants. Moving back home in May and getting a late start on the garden put us a little behind schedule but as the corn towers over us during fireworks, our little seedlings will hopefully be knee high.

The summer sun has me glistening literally and joyously. Tyler and I have spent the last few weeks attending weddings (Congrats Autumn and Casey <3), painting and moving into our home (a big thanks to our family and friends), helping Megan and Kyle paint, attending Michael’s trap meet, and beginning my career as the Education Outreach Coordinator for Linn County.

I am jumping in feet first and I can’t wait to share many awesome agriculture lessons, activities, and training events with you. Be on the lookout for future career updates! 🙂 19029692_10212079688021181_6382507246201358553_nKnee high by 4th of July seems a little outdated but once upon a time it was used as a benchmark for farmers to detect how well their crop was doing compared to years in the past. Today’s technology provides farmers with the access to different strains, genetically modified crops, and precisely accurate fertilizer amounts. 19029417_10212079684941104_8499711684481282613_n

Plant research: Improving each individual plant.

GMOs: Genetically Modified Organisms or biotechnology helps reduce disease and crop loss.

Nitrogen use: The goal is to improve yields without increasing applications.

18892949_10212079685301113_8825794125476886628_nYesterday our indoor starter plants were finally ready to be transported to the garden. If you remember, I started Asters, Snapdragons, and Eucalyptus from seeds indoors. The Asters and Eucalyptus didn’t perform very well but the snapdragons took off like crazy. 18951324_10212079684421091_1696855253357929774_nHere is a photo of the Zinnias 🙂

Not only did we plant the indoor seedlings, but we checked out the rest of the garden. Our drip tape is holding up great! The irrigation system gets right to the roots of the plant without there being water loss from evaporation.   18767480_10212079684181085_3285410691797692294_nAnd look at those Sugar Snap Peas!!

I will be eating GOOD this summer… well by the end of July… haha.