Friday, January 15, 2016

I am Indiana Agriculture: Bruce Lamb

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Bruce Lamb, DVM of Milford, Indiana in Kosciusko County is a 1976 graduate of Purdue University and is also the proud father of four Purdue University graduates.  He and his wife Beth of 38 years live on a farm and raise Registered Angus cattle and hay.  They also have three grandchildren.  Prior to his job with the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH), Bruce was a large animal veterinarian at Milford Large Animal Clinic where he also served as co-owner for 27 years, was a consultant for Progressive Pork Concepts for 5 years, and was the owner of Northern Lakes Food Animal Veterinary Service.   For the past 12 years he has worked as field veterinarian in District 2 and is also the Director of the Johne’s Program and Cattle Specialist for BOAH.

As Director of the Johne’s Program and Cattle Specialist, Bruce’s job responsibilities include: regulatory issues, including testing and monitoring for regulatory diseases such as tuberculosis, brucellosis, chronic wasting disease, avain influenza, PED virus, and foreign animal diseases.  He also investigates milk and meat drug residue violations, animal welfare and abuse cases, and other investigations.
Bruce didn’t grow up on a farm directly, but he had a close connection.  “We lived 2 miles from my grandparent’s farm and I spent as much time there as possible.  I was a 10-year 4-Her and went to the farm to train and raise my calves for the county fair.  I took a lot of 4-H projects and tried to take advantage of everything the Indiana 4-H program offered.  The 4-H program was also an influence in my career and college choice.  My wife, Beth, grew up on a farm and showed cattle, as did all four of our children.”
“When I was a freshman in high school, my grandfather took me to a career night sponsored by our local veterinary association.  He knew I liked animals and thought I might be interested in going to the meeting.  I loved being on the farm with my grandfather.  He raised beef cattle, hogs, and chickens.  Whenever he worked with the animals, I was there.  After high school graduation, I was fortunate to get accepted to Purdue.  I applied to Veterinary School and the rest is history.”

Not only does Bruce have a love for animals, he also enjoys working with the farmers who raise them.   “I like farm animals.  More importantly, I like helping livestock owners keep their animals healthy and their operations profitable.  I like working with people, especially people involved in agriculture and animal agriculture.  They are genuine and hard working.”
“Society considers veterinarians as credible professionals.  That trust and credibility has given me the opportunity to develop a platform and inform others about the importance of animals and animal products in our diets and in our lives.  There’s a lot of misinformation in the media and I like to do my part to talk about the benefits of animal agriculture.  Agriculture and animal agriculture are more than businesses; they define you and become a way of life.”

Monday, January 4, 2016

We Are Indiana Agriculture: The Stewarts

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Andrew Stewart of Greensburg is the fourth generation to operate the family farm.  He and his wife Darci live in a house on the cattle farm with their three children: Matthew, 11; Haleigh, 5; and Ella Kate, 4.  Andrew attended Purdue University and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics in May of 2006.  Before graduation, he received an offer to work for Farm Credit Mid-America in their office in Louisville.  He worked there for 5 years and was able to gain some valuable insights and experience that he was able to put to use on their farm operation.

"My great grandfather, Arthur, started farming in the early 1900s.  He sold his first bag of seed in 1918 and there has been seed sold under the Stewart brand ever since.  My grandfather John and great uncle Gilman bought the first Angus cows in 1955.  My cousin, Josh Gunn, and I are the fourth generation to farm the family farm.”
Stewarts farm commercial corn, seed beans, seed wheat, alfalfa hay, and have a herd of 200 registered Angus cows.  Andrew’s main responsibility on the farm is managing the cow herd.  “Stewart Select Angus is a performance seedstock operation that is focused on raising high-quality breeding bulls for the commercial cattleman.  A seedstock operation is one that sells breeding stock (bulls, heifers, and cows) to commercial producers along with other seedstock operators,” Andrew explains.  “Being a performance herd means that we measure our cattle in almost every way possible to help them be more predictable and profitable for our customers.  We measure birth weight, weaning weight, yearling weight, hip height, and so ultrasound measurements to determine ribeye area, intramuscular fat, rib fat, rump fat.  All of these measurements and more factor into the profitability of the bull for each buyer.”
The cows at Stewart Select Angus are on pasture for 10 to 11 months of the year.  “We have an annual herd test for our cattle the first part of December where we give annual vaccinations and draw blood from each cow to check for certain diseases.  This is just like me going to the doctor for an annual checkup.”
Most of the year, the cows get a mixture of several different forages in the pastures, including grass hay, alfalfa hay, wheat silage, corn silage, and clover.  In the fall, the cows can graze on corn stalks after the corn has been harvested.   “During this mid-gestation time frame of the cow, when the calves have already been weaned, they will be able to pick through the field and find enough nutrients to meet their needs.  The bulls that I develop will get a mix of corn, corn gluten pellets, and soybean hull pellets to help them develop into sound breeding bulls at 15 months of age.”
Stewarts have 200 cows that give birth every year.  In addition to those 200 cows, they will raise approximately 60 bulls on the home farm, 20 bulls at two different sites in Indiana and Montana, 60 replacement heifers, and almost all of the 200 calves that were born that year.  On April 1, they will have about 520 head of cattle of various ages to take care of at home and another 20 off-site.
“We bale straw and corn stalks to bed the barns that our cattle are in routinely to make sure it is fresh.  When the temperature gets colder and the cows will need more energy to keep their body heat, we adjust their feed and give them an additional 10 to 15%.  Cows will actually perform better in 40-degree temperatures than 80-degree temperatures, because of their hair coat.  When their hair coat gets wet and it is windy, they will require more energy to keep their body heat constant.”  An enclosed shed with small pens for birthing  helps baby calves get off to the best start without having the added stress of the cold.
Andrew says his favorite part of his job is seeing a new calf being born.  “Since I start calving around Christmas time, it helps to remind us of God’s gift of Jesus and the power of all His creation.  Being able to have our kids grow up on the farm is also something that I love about my job.  The farm teaches them many things such as responsibility, hard work, problem solving, innovation, and many more.”

Thursday, December 17, 2015

How Popcorn Pops

Every winter break, I always find myself looking for ways to keep my children entertained. A movie and popcorn night is usually one of our go-to activities, but this year, we decided to mix it up a little bit and add an educational element:


The great thing about this activity is that it does not require a lot of time, ingredients or attention spans.

What you need:

·         1/3 cup popcorn kernels

·         3 tbsp. canola oil

·         Popcorn popper

If you don’t have a popcorn popper, you need:

·         Large pot

·         Clear glass lid (very important)

Any type of popcorn kernels will work. I sacrificed my popcorn as the kids wouldn’t let me sacrifice their “real” popcorn (with all the butter, salt, you know – the good stuff). 


1.      Put the pot on the stove, and then turn the stove on. Or turn on the popcorn popper.

2.      Pour in the oil.

3.      Add anywhere from 2-10 kernels and cover with a lid. The larger the pot, the more kernels you can use.

4.      Wait for kernels to pop.
5.    I had the kids take guesses beforehand about how long it would take. That was fun! Once they pop, you can add the remaining kernels and then serve. Be careful – it is HOT!


Inside each popcorn kernel is a little bit of water. When you heat the kernels, the water turns to steam and expands. After a while, the pressure from the steam builds up and the popcorn pops.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

We Are Indiana Agriculture: The Walkers

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Jennifer and Jacob Walker of Dekalb County are both Purdue University graduates with majors in agriculture.  They have two kids Ryan, 2 ½, and Leann, 1 ½, who love coming to the farm, because as Jacob says, “It’s special to have them there.”  After graduation, Jacob worked off the farm for 3 years before coming back to the farm his grandparents started.  “My dad and grandpa farmed separately, but worked together.  In 2001, we lost my grandparents in an accident and my parents continued the operation.  I was fortunate to be able to come into a rolling operation and have the opportunity to help grow it and continue to be successful in the future,” Jacob says.

The Walkers both grew up on farms; Jennifer hails from a family dairy operation, where she was actively involved in the daily milking and harvesting aspects of the farm.  “Growing up on farms definitely has shaped who we are today and we hope our kids continue to have that same opportunity.”  On the current farm, the Walkers raise corn, soybeans, and wheat.  They also bale large square bales of straw and run a Beck’s seed dealership.  Jennifer works as a district conservationist for the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service.

Jennifer and Jacob were the proud recipients of the Young Farmer Achievement Award from Indiana Farm Bureau.  This award is based on their efforts in production agriculture and leadership achievement. 

“The process for the award starts by filling out the application,” Jacob explains.  “There are three finalists that go on to have 20-minute interviews…  We appreciated the application process for several reasons: It focused mostly on your accomplishments in your operation with involvements being important as well.  The applications get judged blind, so your name and hometown isn’t known until the final three.  One of the most difficult things was getting across everything you wanted in a 20-minute interview.  We learned a lot during the process and enjoyed documenting our journey.”

Jacob feels the Young Farmer program through Farm Bureau is important because of the demographics of people in production agriculture.  “There are fewer young people coming back to production agriculture all the time and this program focus on some of that.  There are few other programs across the country that put a focus solely on the next generation of agriculture and that provide a meaningful organization for them.  This award recognizes accomplishments of the individuals and promotes the Young Farmer Program.”

Jacob’s advice to a young farmer who is considering joining the family farm, “Go do something else for a while.  Don’t come straight back to the farm.  Set goals.  Make sure you’re able to make your own mistakes and make meaningful decisions without only riding on the coattail of the previous generation.  Have something that’s yours and take initiative.  Have a mentor.  Make sure there’s proper organizational structure and that it’s clear what everyone’s roles are.  Learn from the people that helped get you where you are and recognize that through the process.”

To learn more about the Walker's farm, visit their website,

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Farm to Table

This summer, we partnered five farm bloggers with five non-farm bloggers to participate in a two part series that would take them from the farm to the grocery store to learn more about where their food comes from. Below are links to not only their experiences but a lot of yummy recipes as well!

Ground Beef Tacos from Angie of Just Like the Number

20-Minute Skillet Pizza from Leah of Beyer Beware

Slow Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken Recipe from Ann-Marie of Chaos is Bliss

Super Easy Pizza Casserole from Heather of 3 Kids and Lots of Pigs

Italian Beef Sandwiches from Crystal of Mom for Less

Crock Pot Lasagna Soup from Jeanette of Fencerow to Fencerow

Homemade Baked Ziti from Ashley of Simply Designing

Crock Pot Chicken and Noodles from Jent of Farmwife Feeds

Baked Turkey Meatballs from Steph of Indy Homeschool

Fiesta Chicken Chowder from Liz of The Farmwife Cooks

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I am Indiana Agriculture: Dan Doles

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Dan Doles of Greensburg has been around farming his entire life.  His great, great grandfather, Isaac Doles, settled the parcel of land where Dan currently lives in 1836.  “I have helped farm the family farm since I was in high school.  We raised beef cattle, hogs, and crops.  At one time, we used to have a cow herd of about 200 cows that calved in the spring and fall, as well as purchasing feeder cattle to feed out.  Our swine operation was much smaller with a farrow-to-finish operation consisting of about 80 sows.  At that time, I was farming with my father, uncle, and cousin.  My father and uncle have since retired and the family has divided the farm acreage, and my brother-in-law and sister currently farm the ‘home’ farm which my father owns.”  Dan has two sisters, one of whom lives in North Carolina and the other lives just southwest of Greensburg, raising her family and farming with her husband.  They also sell products from their operation to local farmers’ markets.

In the winter of 1987, Dan attended a short course at Purdue University studying agriculture.  Then, in June 2015, he spent 4 weeks at Texas A&M University training for his current career as an Enforcement, Investigation, and Analysis Officer (EIAO).  Dan works for the Meat and Poultry Inspection Division of the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH), where he began as a meat inspector, then was promoted to EIAO in January of 2015.  “I am responsible for conducting Food Safety Assessments (FSAs) at official meat processing establishments throughout this great state of Indiana.  An FSA is an in-depth assessment of an establishment’s food safety and sanitation procedures that ensure the meat and poultry products they process are safe to eat.  I also directly observe employees in the performance of their duties to verify if they are following  safe food processing and handling methods.”

When asked why he decided to become a meat inspector, Dan said that in 2005 he took a part-time job working in one of the state-inspected processing establishments on the slaughter floor handling the live animals. That is where he met the BOAH inspectors who monitored the plant.  “In 2009, my father and I had a meeting and decided it was not economical for us to continue to purchase feeder cattle and fatten them out for market.  We decided to rent the farm ground and phase-out feeding cattle,” explained Dan, who had to seek other work.   “I informed the inspection staff, before I resigned, to call me if a position in my area opened up. In 2011, a position opened, and I was hired as a meat inspector.  I have found it has been a wonderful career change and I have no regrets.”

Consumers are once again concerned about antibiotics in the meat they purchase.   Dan offered this piece of information to ease consumer’s minds: “State Meat and Poultry Inspection inspectors collect random drug residue samples, as well as USDA-directed residue samples.  Any meat that tests positive for antibiotic drug residue is condemned for human consumption.”

In his free time Dan likes to be outdoors hunting, fishing, shooting/archery, and playing golf.  He also likes to volunteer his time helping his friend with his Hunter Education Course a couple of times each year.

Friday, November 13, 2015

We Are Indiana Agriculture: Kamille Brawner

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Twenty-one-year-old Kamille Brawner is a junior at Purdue University who lives and breathes dairy farming.  She is majoring in Ag Business Marketing with a minor in Animal Science.  Kamille is a proud fourth-generation dairy farmer from Hanover.  “Dairy farming has always been a huge part of my life and helped shape me into the person I am today.  Even though I’m away at college, I still go home as much as possible and help out on the farm.  I have two older sisters and an older brother, and our job growing up was to help on the farm where it was needed.  Most of my fondest memories from my childhood are from helping on the farm.  On Christmas morning, the farm work had to be done before we could open our presents.  That’s still how it is, and I don’t know any other way.”

Kamille is the daughter of Greg and Teresa Brawner. She says that her brother and dad currently work together on the farm.  The Brawners milk 200 cows, primarily Holsteins.  They also raise corn, soybeans, and hay.  Kamille stays as active as possible in the dairy industry.  Last summer she interned for Organic Valley which allowed her to tour other dairy farms in her area.  She served as the 2014-2015 Indiana Dairy Princess, allowing her to attend the Indiana State Fair and visit the dairy barn and shows to speak with farmers and leaders about the dairy industry.  She also hosted events at her local high school to promote dairy.  Last year, during school, Kamille was also actively involved with the American Dairy Association of Indiana.  “Next summer I will actually be doing something completely different for me and will be interning at John Deere in Iowa.  Everything I have done up until now has involved dairy, so I’m anxious to try something new.  I am still looking forward to doing anything dairy when I’m not working for John Deere.”

Animal care is a top priority for the Brawners.  “We always make sure the cows have fresh sawdust for bedding, and their stalls are always clean.  In the summer, when it is hot, we have fans to help them keep cool and we spray them with water while they are waiting to be milked or if they are lactating, as that greatly increases their body temperature.  The cows are always on fresh pasture during the summer months, and we rotate it every 2 days.  They are also fed a very balanced ration to make sure they are getting all the vitamins and nutrients they need to stay healthy and produce milk.  In the winter, we have tarps in the parlor, where the cows are milked, that come down for added warmth.  We also perform regular herd checks.  Each cow has a monitoring device, which is an ear tag, that allows us to monitor their health closely.”