Wednesday, September 10, 2014

We Are Indiana Agriculture: Smith Family Farms

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Smith Family Farms is located just a few miles west of Pendleton. Jennifer and Neal Smith are the sixth generation to farm the family farm that was established over 100 years ago. Their sons: Mitchell, a sophomore at Purdue, Nathan, a senior at Pendleton Heights High School, and Miller, a seventh grader at Pendleton Heights Middle School make up the seventh generation. The Smiths, along with Neal’s parents Mike and Linda, farm about 2500 acres of corn, soybeans and hay. They milked approximately 100 Holstein calves until 1999 when they converted the dairy farm to a beef farm. Now they have 100 cows. They raise the calves to sell for freezer beef or for show calves.The Smith's cattle are grass and grain fed and raised without the use of antibiotics or added hormones.

The Smith children are definitely familiar with the show ring. “Our boys are very active in the National and State Junior Shorthorn Livestock Shows. Our beef recipes have won the National Junior Shorthorn Cook-off for the last four years,” Jennifer explained. “It is one of our kids’ favorite contests. The teams consist of four kids each. They have a recipe that they must prepare while explaining what they are doing, plate it and present it to the judges to taste.”

If you would like some locally raised beef, Jennifer invites you to visit them at Pendleton, Saxony, or Noblesville farmer’s markets on Saturdays from 8 a.m. - 12 p.m., or you can buy directly from them. They are also in the process of opening a meat market in Pendleton. “I wish the public would understand that they have the safest and cheapest food supply in the world,” Jennifer says.

In addition to the corn, soybeans and hay, the Smiths also have 25 acres of wholesale pumpkins and a U-pick pumpkin patch for field trips. Smith Family Farms combines fall fun and Ag education. The kids can navigate their way through the corn maze, visit the petting zoo, ride ponies, go on a wagon ride and enjoy the other various entertainments while learning all about agriculture. There is also a prairie maze, which is a maze in the soybeans that is geared toward younger children. Visit them on Saturdays and Sundays beginning the last Saturday in September from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Smith Family Farms is located at 7055 West 675 South, Pendleton, Indiana 46064. You can also visit their website for more information.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Don’t Be a Chicken, Try a New Chicken Recipe!

By Sarah Correll

September is Eat Chicken Month! Chicken is a great source of lean protein, not to mention a delicious part of many meals! The Real Farmwives of America and Friends have shared some delicious chicken recipes. Which one are you most excited to try?

Cris shares the secret to making great stuffing in this crockpot recipe!

Wings take a fun twist in this recipe from Marybeth.

Liz adds protein, and flavor, to a white pizza with this recipe.

Cheese, ham, and chicken are all included in this recipe from Leah- and this version is low-carb, too!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

We Are Indiana Agriculture: The Mahans

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

This article is a little different than the others I have written, because instead of interviewing someone else, I get to tell you a little about our farm.  My husband, Brad, and I farm along with his parents, Tom and Colleen, in Rush County.  Brad is the fifth generation to work on the family farm.  We have three daughters, Brittney, 8, Melaney, 5, and Jody, 22 months, whom we try to involve in the day-to-day activity on the farm as much as possible.  Brad also has a sister, Lauren, who works off the farm at an accounting agency.   

We raise corn and soybeans and also have a feeder-to-finish cattle operation.  We purchase the cattle weighing 400 to 500 pounds and feed them out to a finished weight of 1200 to 1300 pounds.  The cattle are fed a well-balanced diet of corn, corn silage, hay and supplements, which act as vitamins to help keep them healthy.  We want the consumers to be satisfied with the meat they purchase, because we aren’t just farmers, we are consumers as well.  We eat what we raise and take pride in delivering delicious meat to dinner tables everywhere.

Brad and his dad are the only two operators on our farm.  We don’t have any outside employees, but during planting season Colleen drives the tractor to till the ground before planting and, during harvest, she drives the combine when needed.  I am a stay-at-home mom and manage to stay pretty busy chasing kids around.  While I look forward to the day that I can work on the farm with my husband, right now my main duties on the farm involve delivering meals to the fields during spring and fall, helping move equipment from field to field, and driving to town to pick up parts to fix the ever-dreaded break down.

Farming is 7-days-a-week, 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year.  Farmers never get a day off.  I grew up on a dairy farm, and I remember taking only one extended vacation.  On Christmas day, we would have to wait for my dad and brother to get in from doing the morning chores before we could open our gifts.  My mom may tell you differently, and I’m sure I begged her several times about opening just one gift before they came inside, but I didn’t mind it.  I learned at an early age that that was life on the farm.  I admire Brad for how hard he works day-in and day-out. 

I feel one of the biggest misconceptions about farming is that farmers don’t care about their livestock or the land.  This past winter, when we faced several days of subzero temperatures and people were advised to stay inside, Brad and his dad were out braving the elements to make sure the cattle had water, feed and fresh, warm straw.  If we take care of them, they take care of us.  We want to preserve the land for the next generation.

You can follow along with our life on the farm by visiting my blog: You can also find me on Instagram: farmmomof3, Twitter @SarahMahan3, and Facebook: This Farm Family’s Life

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Quick Dinners for Back to School

By Sarah Correll

Most Indiana schools are back in session, fall sports are getting starting, and families are even busier than ever. Take some of the stress out of your evenings with these quick and family-friendly recipes!

Sarah of This Farm Family’s Life shares a five ingredient enchilada recipe here.

Jent made a crockpot meatloaf- and shares the recipe over at From My Front Porch!

This lasagna recipe from Leah of Beyer Beware uses only one pan!

Lou of Much Ado About Lou’s Cheesy Taco Bake is ready in just 30 minutes.

Combine any of these with some quick sides, and supper’s ready! What is your go-to quick meal?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

We Are Indiana Agriculture: 4-H Provided Family, Life Skills for This Farmer

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Jeanette Merritt, a member of The Real Farmwives of America and Friends, is the 4th generation to farm on her family operation, Maple Acres, in Miami County.  “I was raised with corn, soybeans, wheat, and hogs. Those are the same commodities we raise today.”  Rusty, Jeanette’s husband, grew up on a dairy farm.  She often jokes that, “My dad sent me to Purdue to get my MRS. Degree; to find a boy to bring back home to farm with him.”

Jeanette and Rusty did, in fact, meet at Purdue during her freshman year.  They were on a mission trip to Oklahoma with about 80 other students during Christmas break.  “I spent the week flirting with my future husband and when second semester started, we were in the same Calculus class.  We spent a lot of time studying together and, while I would study him, he actually learned math!”
Jeanette has been married to her college sweetheart for 19 years and they have three children: Alexandra, 10, Lauryn, 8 and Levi, 3.

A 10-year 4H-er, Jeanette took a variety of projects, but a few she did all 10 years: clothing, genealogy, foods, pigs, and consumer clothing.  “I loved all my projects, even the year I took entomology and had to pin bugs all summer!”  Her kids are following closely in their mom’s footsteps.  “Alexandra just completed her 2nd year of 4-H.  She took 15 projects this year!  Lauryn finished her 2nd year of Mini 4-H.  Next year while in regular 4-H, she intends to take 15 projects too!”

When asked what she feels is one of the greatest values kids learn from 4-H she answered, “My Grandma Maple used to tell me that 4-H wasn’t about blue ribbon projects, but about making blue ribbon kids.  I truly think 4-H teaches kids responsibility.  I believe the work makes them blue ribbon kids.”

“My fair memories are wrapped around my friends.  It’s hard to answer this question right now, as I just lost one of my childhood best friends, but the best memories I have of the fair involve her and quite a few other 4-H friends.  Memories of water fights, horse tank dunking, helping each other get ready for show days, pats on the back for all the ribbons won, and the extreme pride we took in each other’s successes.  In the end, the memories aren’t wrapped around champion ribbons, but the friendships I made.”

Jeanette is the Marketing Director of Indiana Wines and the Purdue Wine Grape Team.  “It is my job to promote the Indiana wine industry.  I market our nearly 80 Indiana wineries.  I also run the largest wine festival in the state, Vintage Indiana.  I work with wineries as they are establishing and help them with marketing plans, social media efforts, news releases, and much more!”

If you are planning a visit to the Indiana State Fair, you might find Jeanette, as she will be in three different spots during the fair that runs until August 17.  She will be in the Grand Hall at the Beer and Wine Exhibition; the DuPont Food Pavilion, where her educational exhibit is located; and in the Glass Barn, where she emcees the live farmer chats three times a day.

“I believe no summer is complete without a trip to the Indiana State Fair.  It is truly a showcase of what is best in agriculture and youth education.  Visitors can touch a pig, watch baby calves be born, learn about many different commodities and climb on tractors.  However, there is so much more for families to experience as well!  You don’t have to live on a farm to enjoy what we do at the State Fair.”

Follow along with Jeanette’s life on the farm by visiting: and on Twitter: @indianawinebabe.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Glass Barn at the Indiana State Fair

By Jackie Barber of Winners Drink Milk

Have you ever wondered where your food comes from, how it was grown, or who grew it?

glass barn

The Glass Barn at the Indiana State Fair will answer your questions. This interactive, new exhibit debuted last year and is back, better than ever, this year. Pop on in the Glass Barn for an (air conditioned) adventure. Play a realistic farm-simulator game that will make Farmville look like Pong, check out pictures of actual Indiana farm families, and even "visit" (via Skype) Indiana farms.

glass barn farming game

You can read a little bit about the five Indiana farm families featured in the Glass Barn here. These five farms take turns doing Skype tours each day of the fair (Aug. 1-17) at 11 a.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m.

glass barn farmers

One of the featured families is Kelsay Farms--an Indiana dairy farm! (Not that I'm biased towards dairy, or anything...) Kelsay Farms in Whiteland, IN (just south of Greenwood) hosts tours for school groups throughout the summer and also opens their farm every fall for corn mazes, pumpkins, snacks, and--of course!--dairy farm tours. If you want your next agritourism experience to be on a real, working farm, check them out on Facebook, on the web, or on this blog. Check out the Glass Barn on Facebook for updates.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

We Are Indiana Agriculture: A Family Tradition

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Heather Hill from Hancock County didn’t grow up on a farm, but her mom grew up on a pig and grain farm and made sure to instill the importance of agriculture in her and her siblings at an early age.  This and her 4-H experiences led her to major in Animal Science at Purdue University. 

Heather and her husband, Marc, farm with his parents, Steve and Debi. Heather and Marc’s three children, Addison (11), Reese (8), and Hadley (5) are part of the operation.  They raise corn, soybeans, wheat and pigs.  Marc is the 4th generation to raise pigs in Hancock County.

“I was a proud third generation 4-Her in Laporte County.  I took sheep, rabbits, foods, sewing and photography for all 10 years,” Heather says.  She had so many great memories during her 10-year experience that she finds it hard to narrow it down to just one, but she says, “I sure do miss those days of hanging out on the show box with friends during the fair!”

Heather is getting to relive her 4-H years through the eyes or her children. “Our kids are the fourth generation of both sides of our family to be in 4-H.  Our oldest, Addison, completed her third year of 4-H this year and our son, Reese, completed his third year of mini 4-H.  Addison took several projects such as pigs, tractor maintenance, foods, sewing, consumer clothing, soil and water, photography, consumer pork, demonstration and public speaking, just to name a few of them.  Reese took mini arts and crafts, mini beef, mini pigs, mini gardening, mini foods, and mini sewing.  Our kids love the fair, but showing pigs and hanging out with their friends are probably top of the list.”

When 11-year-old Addison was asked what her favorite part of 4-H is she said, “Getting to meet new people and seeing the finished product on a project after you’ve put lots of hard work into it.”

Pig show day is the Hill’s favorite day at the fair as a family.  “We love pig show day!  Even though Hancock County is not my home fair, it brings back so many memories for Marc and me, and we are so excited to be making memories with our children.”

Heather’s advice to a parent who is unsure of letting his/her child join 4-H, “Just try it.  It is an amazing organization that will definitely give back what you put into it and more!”