Thursday, December 17, 2015

How Popcorn Pops

Every winter break, I always find myself looking for ways to keep my children entertained. A movie and popcorn night is usually one of our go-to activities, but this year, we decided to mix it up a little bit and add an educational element:


The great thing about this activity is that it does not require a lot of time, ingredients or attention spans.

What you need:

·         1/3 cup popcorn kernels

·         3 tbsp. canola oil

·         Popcorn popper

If you don’t have a popcorn popper, you need:

·         Large pot

·         Clear glass lid (very important)

Any type of popcorn kernels will work. I sacrificed my popcorn as the kids wouldn’t let me sacrifice their “real” popcorn (with all the butter, salt, you know – the good stuff). 


1.      Put the pot on the stove, and then turn the stove on. Or turn on the popcorn popper.

2.      Pour in the oil.

3.      Add anywhere from 2-10 kernels and cover with a lid. The larger the pot, the more kernels you can use.

4.      Wait for kernels to pop.
5.    I had the kids take guesses beforehand about how long it would take. That was fun! Once they pop, you can add the remaining kernels and then serve. Be careful – it is HOT!


Inside each popcorn kernel is a little bit of water. When you heat the kernels, the water turns to steam and expands. After a while, the pressure from the steam builds up and the popcorn pops.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

We Are Indiana Agriculture: The Walkers

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Jennifer and Jacob Walker of Dekalb County are both Purdue University graduates with majors in agriculture.  They have two kids Ryan, 2 ½, and Leann, 1 ½, who love coming to the farm, because as Jacob says, “It’s special to have them there.”  After graduation, Jacob worked off the farm for 3 years before coming back to the farm his grandparents started.  “My dad and grandpa farmed separately, but worked together.  In 2001, we lost my grandparents in an accident and my parents continued the operation.  I was fortunate to be able to come into a rolling operation and have the opportunity to help grow it and continue to be successful in the future,” Jacob says.

The Walkers both grew up on farms; Jennifer hails from a family dairy operation, where she was actively involved in the daily milking and harvesting aspects of the farm.  “Growing up on farms definitely has shaped who we are today and we hope our kids continue to have that same opportunity.”  On the current farm, the Walkers raise corn, soybeans, and wheat.  They also bale large square bales of straw and run a Beck’s seed dealership.  Jennifer works as a district conservationist for the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service.

Jennifer and Jacob were the proud recipients of the Young Farmer Achievement Award from Indiana Farm Bureau.  This award is based on their efforts in production agriculture and leadership achievement. 

“The process for the award starts by filling out the application,” Jacob explains.  “There are three finalists that go on to have 20-minute interviews…  We appreciated the application process for several reasons: It focused mostly on your accomplishments in your operation with involvements being important as well.  The applications get judged blind, so your name and hometown isn’t known until the final three.  One of the most difficult things was getting across everything you wanted in a 20-minute interview.  We learned a lot during the process and enjoyed documenting our journey.”

Jacob feels the Young Farmer program through Farm Bureau is important because of the demographics of people in production agriculture.  “There are fewer young people coming back to production agriculture all the time and this program focus on some of that.  There are few other programs across the country that put a focus solely on the next generation of agriculture and that provide a meaningful organization for them.  This award recognizes accomplishments of the individuals and promotes the Young Farmer Program.”

Jacob’s advice to a young farmer who is considering joining the family farm, “Go do something else for a while.  Don’t come straight back to the farm.  Set goals.  Make sure you’re able to make your own mistakes and make meaningful decisions without only riding on the coattail of the previous generation.  Have something that’s yours and take initiative.  Have a mentor.  Make sure there’s proper organizational structure and that it’s clear what everyone’s roles are.  Learn from the people that helped get you where you are and recognize that through the process.”

To learn more about the Walker's farm, visit their website,

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Farm to Table

This summer, we partnered five farm bloggers with five non-farm bloggers to participate in a two part series that would take them from the farm to the grocery store to learn more about where their food comes from. Below are links to not only their experiences but a lot of yummy recipes as well!

Ground Beef Tacos from Angie of Just Like the Number

20-Minute Skillet Pizza from Leah of Beyer Beware

Slow Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken Recipe from Ann-Marie of Chaos is Bliss

Super Easy Pizza Casserole from Heather of 3 Kids and Lots of Pigs

Italian Beef Sandwiches from Crystal of Mom for Less

Crock Pot Lasagna Soup from Jeanette of Fencerow to Fencerow

Homemade Baked Ziti from Ashley of Simply Designing

Crock Pot Chicken and Noodles from Jent of Farmwife Feeds

Baked Turkey Meatballs from Steph of Indy Homeschool

Fiesta Chicken Chowder from Liz of The Farmwife Cooks

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I am Indiana Agriculture: Dan Doles

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Dan Doles of Greensburg has been around farming his entire life.  His great, great grandfather, Isaac Doles, settled the parcel of land where Dan currently lives in 1836.  “I have helped farm the family farm since I was in high school.  We raised beef cattle, hogs, and crops.  At one time, we used to have a cow herd of about 200 cows that calved in the spring and fall, as well as purchasing feeder cattle to feed out.  Our swine operation was much smaller with a farrow-to-finish operation consisting of about 80 sows.  At that time, I was farming with my father, uncle, and cousin.  My father and uncle have since retired and the family has divided the farm acreage, and my brother-in-law and sister currently farm the ‘home’ farm which my father owns.”  Dan has two sisters, one of whom lives in North Carolina and the other lives just southwest of Greensburg, raising her family and farming with her husband.  They also sell products from their operation to local farmers’ markets.

In the winter of 1987, Dan attended a short course at Purdue University studying agriculture.  Then, in June 2015, he spent 4 weeks at Texas A&M University training for his current career as an Enforcement, Investigation, and Analysis Officer (EIAO).  Dan works for the Meat and Poultry Inspection Division of the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH), where he began as a meat inspector, then was promoted to EIAO in January of 2015.  “I am responsible for conducting Food Safety Assessments (FSAs) at official meat processing establishments throughout this great state of Indiana.  An FSA is an in-depth assessment of an establishment’s food safety and sanitation procedures that ensure the meat and poultry products they process are safe to eat.  I also directly observe employees in the performance of their duties to verify if they are following  safe food processing and handling methods.”

When asked why he decided to become a meat inspector, Dan said that in 2005 he took a part-time job working in one of the state-inspected processing establishments on the slaughter floor handling the live animals. That is where he met the BOAH inspectors who monitored the plant.  “In 2009, my father and I had a meeting and decided it was not economical for us to continue to purchase feeder cattle and fatten them out for market.  We decided to rent the farm ground and phase-out feeding cattle,” explained Dan, who had to seek other work.   “I informed the inspection staff, before I resigned, to call me if a position in my area opened up. In 2011, a position opened, and I was hired as a meat inspector.  I have found it has been a wonderful career change and I have no regrets.”

Consumers are once again concerned about antibiotics in the meat they purchase.   Dan offered this piece of information to ease consumer’s minds: “State Meat and Poultry Inspection inspectors collect random drug residue samples, as well as USDA-directed residue samples.  Any meat that tests positive for antibiotic drug residue is condemned for human consumption.”

In his free time Dan likes to be outdoors hunting, fishing, shooting/archery, and playing golf.  He also likes to volunteer his time helping his friend with his Hunter Education Course a couple of times each year.