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!”

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fair Enough!

By Sarah Correll

It’s county fair season here in Indiana, and a lot of our friends have been having fun at theirs!

Jeanette shares memories of her 4-H fashion review days, and of her kids’ fair week, complete with a Hog Wrestling Contest.

Jent keeps her sense of humor as her kids show their beef cattle at their county fair and watches a tractor pull here.

Lindsay shares photos and memories of a fair filled with livestock shows that involved people of all ages.

Nancy shares about their day at the county fair, complete with ice cream and Ferris wheels!

Sarah’s daughters showed calves and pigs in the open class of their fair. Find the stories here!

What is your favorite thing to do at the fair?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

We Are Indiana Agriculture: Producing Nature's Most Perfect Food

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Wagler Farms was founded in 1950 when Henry and Frances Wagler moved from their Daviess County home in Southern Indiana to help start the Bean Blossom Mennonite Church.  “The original farmstead took on the image of many local farms in that era--167 acres, 18 head of cattle, 4 sows and a mess of piglets,” says Sarah Wagler. “ Sixty-two years, 8 children, 21 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren later, Wagler Farms is still focusing on producing nature’s most perfect food, wholesome nutritious milk.”  Wagler Farms is currently operated by Henry and Frances’s sons, Ken and Lloyd, their wives, Lesa and Crystal, grandson Justin, and his wife Sarah.  The Wagler family is dedicated to the care of their milk cows and is also passionate about adding to the picturesque rural landscape of Brown County.

Work on the 700 Holstein cow dairy farm is definitely a family affair according to Sarah. “Every single day our farm is a bustle!  Justin, Kenny and Lloyd are directly involved in the daily operations dealing with crops and animals.  You can find them doing anything from helping trim hooves to planting crops or making silage.  The jobs are endless on a dairy!  Lesa and Crystal maintain the operation’s financial records, while I work with tours and promotion.”

“On average, our cows provide us with 75 pounds of milk per cow, per day.  Our cows, employees, and ourselves work hard every day to provide families with over 6100 gallons of wholesome, nutritious, delicious milk.”  Since the cows work hard to provide milk 365 days a year, the Waglers work hard every day to ensure their cows are comfortable as Sarah explains. “In Indiana, we can go from one extreme to the next in the blink of an eye!  The ideal temperature for a cow is around 50 to 60 degrees, with that said, how often is Indiana a comfortable 50 to 60 degrees?  So, to help keep our cows cool and comfortable in the summer, we provide shade, clean and comfortable bedding, fans, and even water misters.  It is truly better than a day at the beach!  With those efforts in place, we can make a hot, humid August day into a breezy comfortable 75 degrees.  In the winter, we are also worried about the extreme cold for our cows like we are for ourselves.  Our milking cows are provided shelter that eliminates drafts, but still provides fresh air flow.  We even provide our baby calves with warm jackets to stay warm and cozy!”

When asked how she feels about there being fewer small dairies and more large-scale dairies Sarah explains, “I honestly feel that instead of size we should focus on quality.  In Indiana, we are blessed with diversity of size from 7 cows to several thousand cows.  The best part is, they are all focused on cow care and on providing consumers with a great, nutritious, high-quality product regardless of size.”

Aside from living on a dairy farm, Sarah also has the privilege of working with hard-working dairy families through her career with Dairy Farmers of America (DFA).  “DFA is a milk marketing cooperative that markets members’ milk to the processing facilities.  I am a field representative for DFA and, honestly, do something different about every day.  I love my job because I get to work with great people, great farms, and help ensure a superior product is delivered to market.”

The greatest satisfaction Sarah gets from dairy farming, “It’s hard to pick just one, but I would have to say that at the end of the day, knowing our hard work and dedication is helping feed our neighbors near and far always puts a smile on my face!”

Interesting dairy facts:     
  • Indiana has more than 1200 dairy farms and 97% of them are family owned.  The average herd size is 129 cows.
  • Some cows wear pedometers to measure how many steps they take each day—time spent walking can be a sign of how healthy a cow is.
  • Indiana ranks second in the nation in ice cream production.
  • Milk travels an average of only 100 miles from farm to grocery store.
  • An adult dairy cow drinks nearly a bathtub full of water every day.
  • The average cow produces 90 glasses of milk every day and nearly 200,000 glasses of milk in her lifetime.
  • Dairy farming and processing contributes $810 million to the Hoosier economy every year and creates 8,220 jobs in Indiana.

Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

Rock Salt (also called Ice Cream Salt)
Gallon Baggies
Quart Baggies

1 cup half and half (or whole milk)
2 Tablespoons white sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Any additional mix-ins that your heart desires (cocoa powder, strawberries, chocolate chips, sprinkles, etc.)

1) Fill gallon size baggie half full with ice.  Generously pour rock salt over ice.
2) Pour half and half, sugar, vanilla extract and mix-ins in the quart sized baggie.  Seal tightly!
3) Place quart sized baggie inside gallon sized baggie and ensure both are sealed completely!
4) Shake, shake, shake!  Shake for approximately 5-7 minutes, or until ice cream becomes firm.
5) Scoop ice cream into your favorite dish or cone and enjoy!
6) Place any leftovers in freezer.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Getting Cheesy on National Macaroni Day

By Sarah Correll
June 7 was National Macaroni Day, and the ladies of Real Farmwives of America and Friends sure know how to make some great mac and cheese! Check out their twists on the classic American dish.

A flexible favorite, Jent says her mac and cheese is amazing no matter what kind of cheeses you add!

Looking for a dish with some meat? Try Cris’ Ham and Cheese Skillet! Bonus: only one cooking dish to wash!

Mix it in the crockpot and walk away. This 4 Cheese Mac and Cheese from Jane only requires stirring two or three times while it cooks!

Use your leftover BBQ with Leah’s BBQ Chicken Cheesy Mac!

Dairy farmer Amy has tried a lot of mac and cheese recipes. She shares her favorite here

No matter how you make it, macaroni and cheese will always be a go-to comfort food!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

We Are Indiana Agriculture: Indiana Raise Beef

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

The Lawson family began farming in Boone County over 50 years ago when Donnie’s dad, Don Lawson began raising brooder chickens for laying houses throughout the Midwest.  Donnie and Tammy were married in 1985 and returned to the farm after graduating from Purdue University.  Their daughter, Kay Leigh, and her husband Jeremy joined the operation full time after their wedding in July of 2013.  The Lawsons also have a son, Clay who is in the Army.

The Lawsons raise corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa near Thorntown, Indiana along with their large beef cattle herd. Additionally, they run a finishing operation that cares for 500 beef cattle up until they are ready to enter the food supply.

Like all other farms, each family member has their own responsibilities or niche.  Tammy and Kay Leigh focus on managing the cattle, feeding, breeding schedules, calving and pasture management while Donnie and Jeremy focus on crops, trucking, and equipment maintenance and together everyone contributes to the daily surprise tasks that are omnipresent on a farm.

“Beef is nutritious and a great source of protein and vitamins.  Most cuts are low in fat and superior to many other types of protein,” Tammy says.  The Lawsons sell freezer beef and schedule processing upon request.

When asked what she wishes the public better understood about farming or the beef industry Tammy replied, “We suspect that most consumers are confident of the safety of their food, but it is always important to reassure them that our land and our animals require a large investment that has and will be passed from one generation to the next.  Healthy, wholesome and safe food is our commitment.”

Tammy feels that the greatest reward of farming is, “The combination of working the land, protecting the environment, managing the animals, caring for the calves, reaping the rewards from a long growing year or enjoying the outcome of a difficult calving season are all reasons why we farm.  We feel blessed that we were born in this industry.”

Visit this link for the recipe of a Lawson family favorite that is perfect for grilling on the Fourth of July.