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 🙂

 

 

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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.

 

Tilling It Up

Between graduation, moving, starting a new job, and planting our garden; I am wasting little time as my new chapter begins. A huge shout out to Mom, Dad, family, and friends for supporting me along the way!

Tyler and I spent two warm and buggy evenings prepping and tilling the ground. We were able to get the seeds planted right before the rain came Wednesday. I sound like a typical farmer 😉 Everything is dependent on the rain.

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First we mapped and marked four rows 3.5 X 16 feet. We borrowed a garden lawn mower from Bruce and Linda (Thank you by the way!! You saved us lots of time and energy) to till up the soil. The machine shed was a perfect place for the flowers; the land is flat, close to a water hydrant, and in direct sunlight.

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Can you guess what is in the photo above? I can give you a clue… it is not soil. That is right it is manure!! Perks of owning cattle- access to free fertilizer.

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Here is a picture of me tilling the manure into the top soil. We are lucky to live in Iowa with such dark and rich soil but after doing some reading on flowers I used manure and Peat Moss to loosen and enhance the soil. Peat Moss is made up of 380 species of mosses decomposed in bogs. Peat Moss holds onto nutrients that otherwise leak out of the soil. It also fluffs up the soil and allows air to flow through.

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Tyler wasn’t a fan of my camera, but I had to document our first huge project together! Next is the house 😉 We had a lot of fun being “entrepreneurs,” as dad called us.

The “entrepreneur in me wanted to go big or go home. So we bought drip tape irrigation. Flowers are sensitive to water and too much exposure to their leaves can cause a fungus buildup. Drip tape is more financially and resource efficient, the water is directly accessible to the roots of the plant.

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Here is the final project!! Before planting, weed fabric was placed on each row and holes were cut where the seed was sown. This week we planted Baby’s Breath, Zinnias, Sunflowers, and Rudbecia (black-eyed Susan). A few vegetable seeds were also planted where space allowed ;).

Stay tuned for more garden updates!

Anticipating Beauty

Anyone else anticipating beautiful garden veggies? I know I sure am! Can I get a woot woot!? I am very anxious to map out my flower garden! Not only do I expect to eat deliciously healthy this summer but I am hoping to surround myself with many bright and colorful arrangements. Last weekend, Ty and I started our seeds! It is official…the season has begun. We are in business and a successful (crossing my fingers) summer begins!

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Do you want to start your own flower garden? Are you interested in planting a flower bed? Or are you curious about this new profound passion of mine? Well if any of those pertain to you, keep reading. 🙂

Follow six easy steps to germinate seeds indoors. What is germination? To germinate means to grow and produce shoots after a period of dormancy.

1. Purchase the necessary supplies. 

Items and Estimated Cost 

  • Grow light: $50.00
  • Trays: $5.00 each
  • Seeds: varies
  • Seed starting mix: $10.00
  • Labels: $1.50

2. Decide which seeds need to be started indoors. 

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Depending on the flower, some seeds do best when directly sowed. The seeds that need to be started indoors usually have a longer germination period and are sensitive to the cold. I started Eucalyptus, Aster, and Snapdragon.

3. Add water to the seed starting mix.

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The soil needs to be moist, but don’t let the water pool. The soil need to be wet at all times in order for the seeds to germinate.

4. Add soil to the seed cells.  

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I bought seed trays that have a hole in the bottom to help with drainage. Fill the tray cells full and don’t be afraid to overfill. The soil will compact when we continue to add water.

5. Create a seed bed. 

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Make a small bed for the seeds to lay. You don’t need a special tool for this, just use your hands to make a bed in each cell. By making a place to drop 3-5 seeds we avoid losing seeds when watering. It is also easier to cover the seeds with soil when they are secure in the cell.

6. Place trays under grow light. 

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We have had pretty warm days but the seeds tend to be sensitive to cold temperatures. They will still germinate but it might take longer. Ty moved our seeds indoors last night to avoid the chilly spring nights.

Six easy steps right? Starting the seeds indoors is not hard but seeing successful germination is a whole different ballgame! I am so excited to see the seeds germinate. I am crossing my fingers for a successful first trial!

To wrap up this Wednesday post I would like to congratulate Michael and the CCA Trap Team!! Good job Clippers! 🙂

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New Everlasting Happiness

Good Morning Picking Wild Flowers and Happy Monday! I thought I would kick off your week with a little food for thought. I was scrolling through Google trying to find inspiration for this week and I came across this short but perfect quote. “New Beginnings and New Everlasting Happiness.”

New Beginnings and new everlasting happiness

I practice Lent, a religious holiday that begins on Ash Wednesday and continues until Easter Sunday, and yearly I like to give up something that challenges me to rely on God’s help. For those of you who know me well, I have a bad habit of picking my lip when I am bored, nervous, or stressed. For the past three years I have tried to give this up and as soon as Lent is over I go about my normal ways. Well not this year friends! This year I want to focus on the true reason we practice lent, to lean on God for help in all things! Did you give up something for Lent this year? If so, comment below :).

THINGS to take

New Beginnings,” what does this mean? The more I sat and thought the more joy I felt. This quote represents Easter as a time to rejoice the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus died for our sins and with that we are forgiven. The second half, “New Everlasting Happiness,” puts a smile on my face. Each year is a new opportunity to see the beauty before us. I love this quote too, “The story of Easter is the story of God’s wonderful window of divine surprise,” (Knudsen).

The beauty before us… I bring you an Easter arrangement. I hope my class design puts a smile on your face this week.

Today’s arrangement is inspired by topiary design. “Topiary is the horticultural practice of training live perennial plants by clipping the foliage and twigs of trees, shrubs and subshrubs to develop and maintain clearly defined shapes.”

Recipe: Alstroemeria, white and yellow Daisy, and Aster.

I had a lot of fun with the topiary. It is a unique design that helps to celebrate Easter. The bright colors and odd shape highlight the symbolic relationship between the colors and elements of Easter.

Here is a FUNNY…

THINGS to take (1)

Happy Easter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boys and their Toys

This week we explore a whole new topic related to farming! Boys and their toys! Two weeks ago Dad, Tyler, Kyle, and Michael hunkered under Dad’s Dodge pickup truck to install a new exhaust. We all pitched in and bought it for his birthday and I just know he has been antsy to hear how it sounds!

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Now don’t let these boys fool you… They might look clean but let me tell you… there was no sitting inside without a towel! The morning started off drizzly and I needed coffee, but they did not seem to mind.

I don’t quite understand the excitement that accompanies mechanics, although I do enjoy watching everyone work together! My the end of the afternoon Dad had added a new exhaust and convinced the boys to help with break pads! All of their hard work paid off and everyone felt accomplished!

The opinion of a truck is important to the men in my life. Their trucks are used to haul livestock, machinery, hay, feed, and/or equipment. The TRUCK is part of their everyday routine. My first vehicle was a truck but the dynamic is different.

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I felt sad when I sold my truck, however it didn’t serve the same purpose for me as it does for those who use it everyday. For many outdoor professionals it serves as an essential part to their daily activities.

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And for that reason I will never stand between boys and their toys.

Now, I did not forget to add flowers to this weeks post! I want to make sure I add a bit of sunshine to your lovely Tuesday evening.

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The arrangement is a Easter basket design and can be used as a centerpiece. Meaning, that the flowers and Leather Leaf are symmetrical all the way around the basket.

Easter is a time for celebrating! We will come back to this topic next week but I will leave you with this quote.

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Tropical Agriculture

Hello and welcome to Sarasota, Florida! Tyler and I’s first trip south was perfect! I predict many more visits in our future! I had fun meeting the Hibbs family and exploring the growing city. I loved learning all about where Tyler was born and the place he calls his second home :).

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Enjoying seafood after visiting Mote Marine

Our trip began a little rocky with 3 delays, 1 cancellation, 1 hour wait for a taxi, hotel visit, 4 more delays, frozen bathroom pipes, tornado in Sarasota, and flu season at the airport. But none of that stopped us and we made it to Florida Monday night!

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Tyler and I had so much fun hanging out with his grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and friends. We had a week packed full of adventure- starting with the beach. We explored the Siesta Keys twice, swam in the pool, walked through Mote Marine, discovered a flower farm, and watched the county fair dairy show.

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The weather was high 60’s and sunny! AHHH Florida Sun! 

Did you read what I just wrote??? We discovered a flower farm and saw a dairy show!! I just can’t seem to get away from agriculture! It is all around us folks!! Soak it in…. ;).

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Bucky and Joyce have family friends getting married next week and when he shared with them my love for flowers they invited us to the Native Florida Landscape. A little cove of wonder off the main road in Fruitville, Florida. Within the Native Landscape is a small business called William’s Wild flowers. Williams is creating the flower designs for the wedding next weekend.

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She creates designs using only wildflowers. The gardens are built with the intention that wildflowers will grow in their natural habitat. A few flowers are planted to ensure enough material is available to work with. The business was a unique one to capture. She is very creative and has an eye for beauty within the landscape.

The sun warming the back of my neck made for a beautiful morning outside. It made me very excited to begin my own flower garden.

 

The Hibbs took Tyler and I to the Sarasota County Fair. I noticed a few differences as I made comparisons to our own fair, but all in all the fair felt like home! The summer sun warms Florida to the core and to prevent animals from getting over heated, the fair is moved to spring time.

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Dairy show began at 7 pm 

Our last agriculture stop was more tropical than the rest. Aquaculture is a large industry in Florida and the seafood market is booming. We did not visit any fish farms but we did visit Mote Marine. An aquarium that is dear to the families heart. I learned a lot about the creatures under the sea. We even saw one large shark that no longer exists. I tried to act like it was behind me but Tyler wouldn’t play along haha.

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Spring break 2017 was great! Now begins the countdown for graduation! 1 month and 2 weeks!!!

My First Wedding Corsage & Boutonniere

Hey ya’ll! How are we doing on this lovely Thursday??? Exactly 9 days until spring break, but who is counting ;). I am so excited to show you my first (of many) attempts at a corsage and boutonniere!

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I now have much respect for floral designers who make 50+ for prom, weddings, etc.! It is not easy…! My hand was cramping, my stress level increased, and my concentration narrowed but I loved, loved, loved every minute of it!

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We began by wiring all of the individual flowers and wrapping each stem with floral tape. The wire was placed in the head of the daisies and right below the bloom of the rose. If you look closely you can see the wire in the daisy above.

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Next we added Tree Fern and Purple Limonium to the back of the corsage and boutonniere. After taping it up one more time, we added a bow below the flowers.

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I hope you are as pleased with them as I am! Let the orders flow in, prom goers, brides, grooms, event participators… call me! 😉

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Guess what Picking Wild Flowers? My flower seeds came in!! I am excited to write about the flower garden and I invite you to come along with me on my journey. Here are a few post ideas:

April: Starting flowers indoors

May: Transporting them to the garden

June: Flower growth

July: Local flowers

Currently…

Is it Monday already?? It can’t be… this weekend went way to fast! Currently I am sitting at my dining room table in my cozy apartment while it drizzles outside. I am loving the odd weather! It may be getting me antsy for spring break though 😉

Between last week and this past weekend I am feeling pretty blessed. I had a great Valentine’s Day. Tyler surprised me at school with my favorite flowers. It is a semester of flowers, flowers, and more flowers and I am loving every minute of it!

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Wednesday came around and it was time for my weekly floral design class. This week we designed 3 arrangements: french bouquet, wedding bouquet, and a small table design. I found the hand bouquets to be very frustrating! It was so hard to hold all the stems as you twisted and layered the flowers. We also had to make the flowers stand up on their own!

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My flowers (amateur designer) of course would not stand up! I cut the bottom stems perfectly flat and the dang things just wouldn’t listen haha. I was so embarrassed but I worked hard and finally got them to stand on their own just as the teacher was walking around to each person’s station.

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We then tore the bouquet apart to make the small table piece. It was sad pulling the flowers from their tightly bound arrangement, but in the end we had more practice.

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I have to give a shout out to Tyler for making my week fantastic! Not only did he surprise me on Valentine’s Day, but he accompanied me to the National Farmers Union College Conference on Cooperatives in Minneapolis.

16832149_10211098346488256_7479524901779703506_n-1Doesn’t he clean up nicely? 😉 He is going to be mad at me… haha. We had a great time exploring the Twin Cities.

Did you know there are housing and restaurant co-ops? Ace Hardware is a co-op…it is ran by its employees!! We had the opportunity to tour Mississippi Market, Riverton Student Housing, and REI.

I learned so much from so many people. NFU  put together a great line up of knowledgeable speakers and panelists. Coming from an agriculture background, I really only had experience with grain and local cooperatives, but co-ops are everywhere!

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Iowa Folks

There were two other Iowans who joined us at the conference. It was great getting to network with people within our state and with people from across the U.S. I met 3 wonderful people from North Carolina.

NFU took us to the Mill City Museum and to a play called “Rise up O’men,” I highly recommend both! I had a blast stepping back into history.

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Sunday came and the drive to Iowa was a sleepy one, but it is opportunities like this that I want to take advantage of. I am learning so much and I find the experience to be so valuable. Having a open mind and soaking in the world is something that will continue long after I graduate.

“Millennials love co-ops, they just don’t know it yet,” said keynote. Cooperatives are a very unique way to conduct business.

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Quote of the Day! Check it out mom! 🙂

 

 

 

 

Dear Valentine,

Dear Valentine,

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Thank you for taking time out of your day to read Picking Wild Flowers each week. Your continuous support and encouragement is making my blog come to life. I wish you a Happy Valentines Day!

These three things continue: FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE… and the greatest of these is LOVE.

XOXO

Morgan

I love Valentines Day! I love celebrating LOVE and cherishing those who are in my life! This is Tyler and I’s first Valentines Day <3! Being as Valentines Day is on a Tuesday I won’t be able to see Ty, therefore, I made him treats last weekend before heading back to school. Have you ever heard of Iowa Girl Eats? If not check her out because these Triple Fudge Brownie Truffles are chocolate heaven!

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Coming off a chocolate high, I introduce to you two designs from last week! Enjoy!

Design One:

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Asymmetrical Design
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3 Gerbera, 3 Bells of Ireland, 3 Aster, 2 Palm leaves, and 3 Linear Blue flowers
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Bells of Ireland are so interesting!

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Design Two: 

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Roses, Alstromerias, and Zinnias for Grandma Pat from Dad

Have a great Valentines Day!