Friday, October 24, 2014

I am Indiana Agriculture: Kirk Thornburg

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life
Kirk Thornburg is a 4th generation farmer who resides in Richmond with his wife Lori and daughters, Macy and Kinzie. Kirk grew up on the family farm located near Greensburg in Decatur County and his father still farms the land today.  "I currently manage a 2,800-sow farm for Country View Family Farms located in Randolph County near Lynn.  Country View Family Farms is a division of The Clemens Food Group, and all hogs are harvested at Hatfield Quality Meats in Pennsylvania.  The pork is marketed primarily in the Northeast corridor of the U.S.   I received my bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma in 2005, and am currently enrolled at Purdue University as a graduate student and a candidate for a Master of Science degree in communications.”

Kirk is currently President of the Indiana Pork Board where he has been a member and served on several committees since 2010.  Kirk was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture as a National Pork Forum delegate in 2014.

The one thing Kirk loves most about farming is “the sense of accomplishment I get from understanding that what we do helps to feed the world, and being able to educate others as to what farmers do to feed their families and others around the world.”

“The methods we use to produce crops and livestock today, including pork, use modern technology to produce more food, more efficiently, and more environmentally friendly than ever before.This technology is allowing us to produce the most affordable, most nutritious and safest food we’ve ever produced.  I have had the pleasure of speaking to Richmond High School students on several occasions to teach them about modern pork and food production in general, as well as demonstrating how pork can be prepared.  This is truly something I enjoy."

Friday, October 10, 2014

We Are Indiana Agriculture: Emiley Gaskill Doing What She Loves

Emiley Gaskill and her husband, Randy, live in Adams County.  They have three sons: Aaron, who works for Helena Chemical Company; Brandon, a service man for Oracle Pork; and Craig, who is a manager over 10,000-head of wean-to-finish hogs. 

Randy and Emiley are also the proud grandparents of 2-year-old Gaven who, Emiley says, “Is the apple of my eye.”  

The Gaskills are proud supporters of 4-H, having all completed 10 years in the organization.  They are also members of the National Junior Swine Association. “Our family raises and shows swine for exhibition.  We show at county, state, and national levels. We currently breed 30 sows to raise piglets to sell to other young people who want to show them. We have had success in and out of the show ring as we have built relationships with other swine exhibitors, and have gained important knowledge and life skills that have made our show pig business what it is today.”

“We follow the advice from our veterinarian on the health and well-being for our pigs and the National Pork Board’s PQA (Pork Quality Assurance) program to ensure that, on our pig farm, the pigs are kept healthy and safe,” Emiley explains.  “We care about the kind of care our pigs receive after they are sold, so we work with families on educating them on proper pig care and handling, nutrition, and want our pigs to do well for them."

Her favorite part of farming is the long nights they spend as a family in the barn when the “mama pigs” are giving birth.  “We want every pig to get off on the right start from the very moment they are born.”

Emiley also serves on the Indiana Pork Producers Association Board of Directors and is the chair for the youth show pig committee, where they hope to engage more young people in pig farming.  She also gives speaking presentations through the National Pork Board’s Operation Main Street speaker’s bureau. Emiley serves as a PQA Advisor to help other pig farmers by educating them on good production practices and getting their farms assessed for certification.

“I feel it’s very important for pig farmers to be advocates for our industry, because no one knows it better than us, and if we aren’t out there sharing how and why we do the things we do, then someone else might tell consumers things that simply are not true. We raise and feed our family the same quality of pork that consumers find in the stores, so we want to make sure it’s the very best.  I love what we do and want to share what I love with everyone!”

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Italian Wedding Soup with Cheesy Meatballs


frost close up on leaf2The temperature dropped, just after a wonderful stretch of beautiful warm weather in late September. 

Can you guess what happens next?  

If you guessed people dig out the cold weather comfort food: chili (no doubt), soups and crock pot creations, then we are on the same page.  

I thought about taking a poll to see how many people made chili that first weekend when the temperature plummeted.  I’d bet more than you realize.  Maybe I’ll ask that incredibly nice lady greeting me at my favorite grocery superstore.  

But I digress, back to comfort food, ah yes.

Sure enough at my house they requested Italian Wedding Soup with homemade cheesy meatballs.  This is a simple soup with great tasting meatballs.  It’s a pleaser for all in my household because it’s different than what is usually on the menu and my picky eaters love it as well. There is nothing worse for me than to make something that only some of us are excited about. It just gives you a great feeling to know that everyone will enjoy their dinner that evening. The recipe calls for 1 ½ pounds of ground turkey for the meatballs however, I alter my meatballs a bit by using 1 pound of ground turkey and ½ pound of sausage. It gives the meatballs a great flavor. I’m sure you will find a way to make it your own. 

  Italian Wedding Soup with Cheesy Meatballsitalian wedding soup 


1 ½ lb. ground turkey 
¾ tsp. Salt 
¼ tsp. Pepper 
3 Tbsp. freshly chopped parsley 
1 egg 
½ cup bread crumbs 
¼ tsp. hot sauce 
½ tsp. Garlic powder 
½ cup of grated Parmesan cheese 
16 oz. of small bow tie pasta 
2- 32oz. containers of Chicken stock 
1 package of baby spinach

  meatballs cooking 

Combine turkey and all ingredients except pasta, chicken stock and spinach and mix well in a large bowl. Roll into medium sized meatballs. Brown meatballs in skillet with 2 tbsp. olive oil. While meatballs are browning, pour chicken stock in large pot and bring just to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Cook pasta in separate pan to al dente. Once meatballs are browned transfer to large pot of chicken stock. Add spinach and simmer 5-10 minutes.  Lastly add cooked pasta. Serve and enjoy!