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.