Wednesday, March 27, 2013

If You're Going to Wine About It

Indiana may not be the first state that comes to mind when you think of wine, but it could be.  Our state is home to 69 wineries, including two that also offer craft breweries and one that operates a distillery that produces craft brandy.

Huber Winery in Starlight, Indiana produces wine and craft brandy.

Indiana’s oldest winery is Oliver Winery in Bloomington and its newest is Carpenter Creek Cellars in Remington.  William Oliver, a professor at IU, began making wine as a hobby in the 1960s.  His production grew (literally), the Indiana Small Winery Act passed in 1971, and the rest is Indiana wine history.  Oliver Winery is now one of the largest wineries in the eastern U.S. and the Indiana wine industry continues to expand.  In fact, Carpenter Creek Cellars was just added last Friday!

Malena Zook enjoys a glass of wine Oliver Downtown.

Have you tried on Traminette?  Indiana’s signature wine is made from a hybrid grape bred specifically to grow well in Indiana’s sometimes harsh climate (last Sunday anyone?).  

One of the largest wine competitions and a very popular wine festival both call Indiana home.  Indy International is held each July and August each year.  It is the largest scientifically organized and independently run wine competition in the world.  Nearly 3,000 entries were judged last year.

Bottles are lined up and judged by 50 judges in the Indy International Wine Competition.

The 14th annual Vintage Indiana wine festival will be held on June 1st in downtown Indianapolis this year.  Bring the family for a day filled with wine, food, live music, and activities for the kids!

As you can see, Indiana has lots to wine about :) . So go check out this map of all of Indiana’s wineries, visit, and let us know what you think!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Four Seasons of Comfy Cows

By Jackie of Winners Drink Milk


Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stops the postal service from doing their job--add Sundays, federal holidays, and looming apocalypses to the list and then it would apply to dairy farmers, too!

Dairy farming happens in all weather and all climates, from snowy Wisconsin to sunny California. Here in Indiana (the if-you-don't-like-the-weather-wait-5-minutes state), our dairy farmers are gearing up to see to their cows' comfort as winter changes to spring.

March goes in like a lion and out like a lamb, they say, so farmers have to be prepared to change strategies quickly to keep cows warm when it's cold (like today) and cool when it's hot.

Cold winters may make you and me bundle up in mittens, scarves and coats, but even fairly cold temperatures aren't that much of a problem for an adult dairy cow. If she's in a draft-free barn, with clean, dry bedding, and a group of friends, she's pretty toasty.

 Cows generate a lot of body heat, so an enclosed barn  or even a pasture lean-to with a group of cows in it will be a lot warmer than the howling blizzard outside. Cows also have a big, powerful stomach and are constantly digesting their food. Ever notice that you feel warmer after a bite to eat? Cows do too, only they eat pretty much all the time, so their stomach is like a personal space heater.

  Jersey calf

The cold does pose a big challenge to baby calves, though. These youngsters don't have a layer of fat to protect them and since they are only drinking milk and not eating solid food, their stomach doesn't warm them up that much. 

In the winter, calves are bedded down with a lot of clean straw so they can snuggle down in and stay warm. Calves are either housed in groups in a draft-free barn so they can huddle together or have their own personal area so they are completely protected from any wind or draft. 

In very cold climates, calves even wear little coats, similar to a horse's blanket or a Paris-Hilton-style dog sweater, to stay extra warm! 

The warmer months may be a little easier on the calves, but that's when the mama cows need a lot of attention. By the time you would be comfortable standing outside in a T-shirt, it's already "hot" to a cow--she's using energy cooling herself down. 

The picture at the top shows a barn opened up for the summer time, with fans to circulate air. Farmers install fans and even misters to keep cows cool, and always have a supply of fresh water available so cows can take a refreshing drink. So whether March brings snowstorms, sunshine or anything in between, Indiana dairy farmers are prepared to keep their cows comfortable.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Celebrating Agriculture with Indiana Bloggers

Today is National Ag Day, a day for farmers and everyone who eats to celebrate all that agriculture gives us.  Governor Pence declared the entire month of March as Indiana’s Agriculture Appreciation Month, and we celebrated on March 5th by inviting our friends to join us at the State House.

Here’s what some of our blogger friends had to say about their day with cupcakes, the governor, great food truck food, and lots of agriculture at the State House.

Jen at 4tunate talks about getting eating by an orchid and farmers as local heroes.

Ann-Marie at Chaos is Bliss shares her thoughts on how food gets from tractor to truck to table.

Katy at Indy with Kids chats about her parents’ ties to agriculture and how she is teaching her kids about where their food comes from.

Crystal at Mom for Less sampled delicious food and met with people ranging from sixth generation farmers to Governor Pence during her day at the State House.

Cherie of Queen of Free grew up in a farming community and reflects on a fun day at the State House here.

Jacqueline shares her appreciation for Indiana farmers and highlight of that day at Writ Rams.

We’re so glad we could spend the day with these lovely ladies at the State House- connecting Indiana bloggers and their readers to agriculture!  

Also in attendance that day were our friends from The Real Farmwives of America and Friends were also there to celebrate with us! 

Join these ladies on their facebook page as a great way to connect to agriculture everyday!

How are you celebrating agriculture this month?

Thanks to Heather at Basilmomma for helping us celebrate although she could not be there.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

National Registered Dietitian Day

Today is National Registered Dietitian Day!  But what, exactly, does a registered dietitian do?

 A registered dietitian, or RD, is a versatile professional who helps families, communities, and individuals make their diet the healthiest (and best tasting!) it can be.

These are just some of the ways registered dietitians have made a difference in the lives of others:

Many people have pre-diabetes. Registered dietitians change lives by teaching them skills to avoid the disease.

A registered dietitian can work with public health, government, school and other local leaders to create wellness programs that promote healthful eating and physical activity for everyone in a community.

Registered dietitians assist marketing managers with making the connection between taste and health and work with food scientists to develop new products that will be successful in the marketplace.

Athletes at any level can improve their performance with the help of an RD.

A registered dietitian can teach anyone basic cooking skills to help them prepare nutritious food in a convenient way.

Click here to find out more or find a registered dietitian in Indiana!  

Monday, March 11, 2013

Nourishing the Nourishers: What Do Dairy Cows Eat?

By Jackie of Winners Drink Milk

Since it's National Nutrition Month, it's a good time to think about how what you are putting on your plate. However, good nutrition isn't just important for humans--it's also a huge part of keeping a dairy cow happy, sassy and healthy. Feeding a dairy cow isn't an accident--she doesn't just wander around a farm, eating whatever's laying around before sauntering into the milking parlor. Indiana has grazing and non-grazing dairies and both forms pay a great deal of attention of what is going in their cows' mouths. Grazing dairies seed and care for their pastures to make sure cows are getting good quality forage to eat, as well as rotating cows on and off pastures so the grass has time to rest and regrow after being munched on. Many grazing dairies will also supplement the cows' diets during winter with hay or grain.


Non-grazing dairies often feed something called a "total mixed ration" or TMR. This ration could contain grassy forages, grains, and vitamin and mineral supplements. The TMR is a way to make sure cows eat all the tasty bits, like the silage and ground corn, while still getting the vitamins and minerals she needs. It's basically like a casserole for cows and works the same way feeding green bean casserole to kids does--it tastes good and is all mixed together so little Sally eats her greens without really realizing it. So what's actually in the TMR? The specific ingredients vary from farm to farm, just like the dinner menu would vary from family to family but common ingredients include:
  • Corn silage--a chopped up corn plant
  • Hayledge--chopped and fermented hay
  • Soybean meal--ground up soybeans
  • Corn--corn kernels, either whole, ground or fermented
  • Distiller's grains--essentially leftover corn, a byproduct of ethanol production
  • Brewer's grains--leftover malt grains from beer production
  • Wheatledge--chopped and fermented wheat
  • Cotton seed--the seed leftover once the cotton fibers have been removed, a byproduct of cotton textile production
  • Beet pulp--a byproduct of manufacturing sugar from sugar beets
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements
There's an old saying that "an army marches on its stomach" and this holds true to dairy farming, too--a cow produces only as much milk as her diet allows. That's why farmers spend so much time crafting, mixing, feeding, testing and re-imagining their cows' diets.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Hoosier Farmers Celebrate Indiana Ag Month

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Jay Hawley or Grandpa Jay, a pork farmer from Clinton County, thinks Ag Month is so important because he feels there is almost no knowledge of where food comes from anymore.

  Grandpa Jay 
"Wal-Mart hasn't grown any food ever, but some people believe that they are the source of all food," says Grandpa Jay. "There are so few of us left that we need to educate the vast majority of the public who we are and what we do. The farmers used to be viewed as the good guys, but that is changing.  We need to tell our story and that we are really great people who do care about the land, our animal, and the environment."

Grandpa Jay2

Jay graduated from Purdue University in 1969. He then returned home to farm with his dad. Jay married his wife Sue that summer and they have been farming and raising hogs for more than 43 years. They currently farm about 750 acres and have a farrow to feeder pig operation-they keep the pigs from the day they are born until they reach 50-60 pounds. Jay and Sue have 3 children and 6 grandchildren.

They started Grandpa Jay's Pork in 2006.  "We sold at four farmers' markets last summer which included Noblesville, West Lafayette, Frankfort, and the Statehouse market," says Grandpa Jay. "We have two restaurants using our pork and hope to increase that number.  We have a produce that is 88% lean and has nothing added except different spices for different flavors."