Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Is There a Difference?

Pork Producers (and all other livestock farmers as well!) work hard to provide safe, efficient and cost effective housing for their animals. When something is your livelihood, you want it to be 
the best if can be!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

No Other Life I'd Rather Live...

Four years ago today, I lost my father, one of the most humble, passionate, hardworking agriculturists I've ever known. Today, I got up, put on my boots and charged my camera, got in my car and just drove. My heart took me to Pickaway County, to fields and fields filled with the promise of a good harvest. Working these fields, as I could tell they'd be itching to do, were the farmers. The green tractors, the red tractors, even a yellow tractor, diligently preparing the land for this spring's planting. I don't know about you, but this is one of my favorite views in the whole world. Dad used to be a grumpy old bear all winter, always complaining and yearning to get back out the fields as soon as God would let him. But as soon as He did, that old bear cheered up like no other. I know that now when I pass those farmers, my dad isn't in that tractor, but I like to imagine he is. The best kind of calm and peace comes over me and it fills me with such joy. Missing someone is never easy, but the peace that comes with the years makes it's much more bearable and for that, I have to thank God. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Winter? Wheat?

It may be pretty "blah" around here right now, not a whole lot growing, but it's always a fantastic sight to see the popping green of winter wheat poking out of the ground in February! 

Learn more about Ohio wheat (and other grains) at

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Everything But the Oink!

Pigs have always fascinated me. They're smarter than most people assume (you can almost train them like dogs), are healthier to eat then many other meats (that's another post though) and by golly, can you get some wacky products from them! 

Also, check out what Dutch designer Christien Meindertsma found when she followed the path of Hog # 05049! It's a very cool story! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Blogging is Harder Than It Looks!

So my dear readers, I had promised you the second installment in "The Forty-Four Presidents and Farming" tonight before 11 pm. Any chance I can persuade you to forget about that promise until tomorrow?! I'll make you all pretty pictures! Actually, I've spent the majority of today catching up on correspondence, creating new graphics, researching this series and believe it or not, studying! (I'm a college student, as well as a blogger.) I have to give bloggers a TON of credit, because creating new material, coming up with ideas, formatting, following social media and praying technology works the way you want it to is a lot harder than it looks. It takes persistance and patience to make a blog successful, which is what I hope to have soon!

Anyways, if you're a history junkie and absolutely need your fix, check out this AMAZING site for a look at American Agriculture through the years. I promise you won't be disappointed.

P.S. Just a little FYI, if you thought Martin Van Buren was a boring president, wait till you get a load of these next five. It's taking much longer to find anything of importance on them!  

A New Era in Agriculture...

Do you believe in the future of agriculture? Past, present or future members, we are all FFA! 

Alphabatography Agriculture

“Agriculture…is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.” – President Thomas Jefferson

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Forty-Four Presidents and Farming: Part 1

Maybe this post is a bit premature... while at work today, I had the bright idea of sharing farming facts about all 44 of our presidents. Big dream for one afternoon, no? My original plan had been to not only FIND these facts, but make INDIVIDUAL graphics for each one. Even bigger dream. I think I'll revise that idea a bit. So far I've got 10 presidents researched, so I'll share 10 tonight- then 10 every day for the rest of the week!

To start off our list,

#1, George Washington: 

Our nation's first president also had the nation's largest Whiskey Distillery of the time. 

Washington at Mt. Vernon (painting by Stearns)
George was a pioneer in agriculture at his Virginia farm, Mount Vernon. He utilized new fertilizers, methods of crop rotation and revolutionary (no pun intended) equipment.

Are these guys related to Washington's stud Royal Gift? 
One other super sweet fact about ol' G.W... He is credited with introducing the first mules to America! Read all about his steeds here!

#2, John Adams: 

A humble man and the father of of a president! 
 Not much is said about our second president and agriculture, however it is known that he bought a farm adjacent to Thomas Jefferson's plantation, Monticello. That and he had this to say about the farming life:

"Let me have my farm, family and goose quill, and all the honors and offices this world has to bestow may go to those who deserve them better and desire them more. I count them not."

#3, Thomas Jefferson: 

Our third president was possibly our most agriculturally involved president. Jefferson was zealous about soil conservation, wrote books on farming, maintained a large plantation at Monticello and even won a Gold Medal from the French Society of Agriculture in 1809.
Jefferson was what might be considered, a true Renaissance Man. 
Monticello Gardens

"Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals and happiness."

#4, James Madison 
James Madison was a prominent farmer who maintained a farm near both Adams and Jefferson. An avid environmentalist, he remained adamant about the fact that "nature is fragile" and even chastised Virginian farmers who did not think to conserve the soil. We may have Mr. Madison to thank for our interest in conservation today! 

#5, James Monroe: 

A few very important things happened during the presidency of James Monroe that affected agriculture. 

First and foremost, the Land Act of 1820 allowed farmers to purchase up to 85 acres of land at only $1.25 an acre. 3.5 MILLION acres in new Western territories were purchased in 1820 alone. 

Ohio under the Land Grant of 1820

Also during this time, farming became more a commercial trade. With the beginning of industrialization and the advent of more efficient farming practices, people could move to town and those remaining in rural areas could grow more crops and raise more livestock to sell for profit to those in town. People no longer had to grow their own food to sustain themselves. 

#6, John Quincy Adams: 

J.Q. Adams was actually the son of President #2, John Adams! 

The Erie Canal, c. 1825
With the completion of the Erie Canal (and subsequently, the Ohio-Erie Canal) in 1825, transportation of agricultural goods across inlands became much more practical. 

Ohio' s canal routes

#7, Andrew Jackson: 

"Agriculture, the first and most important occupation of man, has compensated the labors of the husband man with plentiful crops of all the varied products of our extensive country."

Andrew Jackson's plantation, the Hermitage, actually remains as part of working farm today, in addition to being a historical site. 

Check out how agriculture works at the Hermitage today! 

#8, Martin Van Buren: 

While he may not have been one of our most memorable presidents (really, who thinks about Martin Van Buren?), but during his presidency, agriculture accounted for 73% of America's total exports and brought $74 million to the economy. So go Martin! 

A forgettable president, but a memorable industry.
And perhaps the greatest invention of Van Buren's presidency was a little thing called the Steel Plow. A dude named John Deere may or may not have come up with it, and it may or may not be responsible for much of modern agriculture today. 

Ze steel plow of John Deere!

#9, William Henry Harrison: 

It's quite difficult to find information about a guy who was only in office 40 days. That's what happens when you give a 90 minute inaugural speech in the cold March rain. But hey, he was the first president from Ohio, the first president to die in office and of special importance to this list, the first president OF THE HAMILTON COUNTY AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY! Harrison helped found the Ohio county's ag society and yearly fair in 1819. 

Paving the way for Ohio presidents since 1840... 
 And #10, John Tyler: 

Today's inaugural post on the president's and agriculture (see what I did there?) concludes with our 10th chief of state, John Tyler. 

John promoted agriculture and commerce, calling them "twins" and mandated that they should not be "restricted by the folly of high duties and tariff restrictions." Tyler definitely championed America as a leading exporter of agricultural products. He once said that "America is the granary of the world."and indeed it still is to this day. 

Stay tuned for tomorrow's installment of The Forty-Four Presidents and Farming, featuring heads of state #11-20! 

P.S. Sorry this is practically tomorrow anyways. Tomorrow's will be up before 11 pm, I promise! 

Did you know...

President George Washington was a revolutionary farmer; he introduced the Mule to America, had the nation's largest whiskey distillery and used new fertilizers, crop rotation and equipment on his farm, Mt. Vernon.  

That Triangle Sign...

Ever wonder where a symbol that has become synonymous with tractors and other farm machinery
came from? Look no further than Ohio's own OSU Agricultural Engineering department! Signs aren't
their only specialty; check out what students in the ASABE (American Society for Agricultural and
Biological Engineers) program at Ohio State are doing this year!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Celebrating National FFA Week

To kick off Day 1 of National FFA Week, I thought I'd put out a few facts about an Association near and dear to my heart- the Ohio FFA Association. I spent 7 years in the program and I can honestly say that it is the one organization that has most made me the person I am today. Take a few minutes to check it out, see what's going on, and why it's not "just about farmers" anymore!

 Learn about the Ohio FFA Association!

Catch up with the National FFA Organization!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Day 3: Ethanol

"By increasing the use of renewable fuels such as ethanol and bio-diesel, and providing the Department of Energy with a budget to create more energy efficiency options, agriculture can be the backbone of our energy supply as well." - John Salazar

Want to learn more about this a-MAIZE-ing fuel? Check this site out!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day 2

Learn more about where your hamburger and steak come from! Check this out!

Day 2

Soybeans are Ohio's number one agricultural commodity... and actually account for 6.8% of the total US crop. Here are some ways we use soy everyday.

Spoiling My Ponies

Good morning everyone! 

So I am not the world's best cook... anyone who knows me will tell you that. There are horror stories of my chocolate chip cookies and don't get me started on macaroni and cheese. However, there is an audience that doesn't mind my cooking- and that is my horses.

I got the urge to make some Valentine's treats for my boys the other day and here's what ensued. Feel free to make them for your equine friends! 

First, finely chop up equal parts carrots and apples. I used green Granny Smiths, but I'm sure any would work.

What a nice depth of field. Love my 50 mm 1.8!

Pour those into a food processor/blender and add about 2 cups of applesauce and half a cup of water to blend easier.  Now would be a good time to set your oven to 375 degrees so it's ready!

Mmmmm! Orange goop. Try it, it's really kind of good.

Gather up some molasses, corn syrup, breakfast oats and flour. These will be the base of the cookies. 

 Here's the ratio I used: 
1 part carrot/apple puree 
1 1/2 parts oats
1 1/2 parts flour 
1/2 cup corn syrup 
1/2 cup molasses 

Don't forget the molasses!

Mix this up until you get a sticky, semi solid concoction. If it's too wet, add more flour and oats. Too dry? More apple/carrot. 

The plus side to mixing this by hand is you smell nice and sweet all day.

Grease a cookie sheet and get ready to get messy! Since it was Valentine's day, I shaped my cookies into hearts, but for everyday cookies a round ball about the size of a fifty cent piece would work well. Spread your cookies out evenly on the sheet and sprinkle sugar over the top. 
LIGHTLY dust with sugar! You don't need to give your horses a sugar rush.

Bake at 375 degrees (F) for about 15-20 minutes, depending on how big your cookies are. Ideally, they're done when they are solid and slightly browner. 
Awww. Hearts!

Let them cool and then prepare to be adored by every horse you come in contact with!
Maverick thoroughly enjoyed his cookies. 
... And then Falf decided he wanted Mav's as well.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Day 1

Almost 98% of Ohio's farms are family owned and operated, not factory corporations that some groups have led us to believe. Meet one of Ohio's farm families here!

What It's All About

As the daughter of an Ohio hog and grain farmer, I've always been passionate about my family's work. I never could understand how people could be so stereotypical about something they've never encountered, like agriculture. From a young age, I was taught that the best way to help people learn about farming and livestock, was to be proactive about it. For many years, the easiest way to do that was to tell my classmates about the animals I showed at the fair, or to give them a tour of our farm. As I got older, the challenge got harder however. Three huge things happened in February of 2008 that I will elaborate on on a little. 

In the early part of February, my dad sat us all down and told us that the hog farm we'd been used to was going to change. Instead of having a 300 sow (mother pig) farrow to wean operation, we'd be converting to a wean to finish farm. The amount of hands on work, the birth of the piglets, and the monthly weaning that I'd grown so used to over 17 years was about to end. When the semi came to take away our sows, I felt like a part of me had died. It may not seem like much to you, but not waking up to sows screeching every morning for feed was heartrending. 

The second major event that changed my life, happened during the morning of February 28. My agriculture education class was hosting representatives from Chipotle restaurant. In a series of presentations and questions and answers, we were able to share our opinions on Chipotle's stance on agriculture. Basically, unless our animals were kept outside and fed grass, we were considered "factory farmers". This attack was personal. That morning changed the way I looked at my life. No longer was I going to be able to skate by on assuming people knew the truth about farming; I was going to have to fight for it. 

At 3:30 in the afternoon on that same day, February 28th, we got a call. My 53 year old father, the rock of my life and the inspiration for my love of farming, had collapsed while grinding feed. 2 hours later, he was gone. In the months that followed, my mom sold off her half of the partnership to my uncle for security reasons. While we still live at the farm, most of the time it seems like a shell of it's former self. After that, I've felt sometimes like a poser in the agriculture world. I no longer have the direct contact I'd grown up with and for some reason, this made me feel like I had no authority to speak about ag. Obviously, this isn't true, but for four years, I've had difficulty speaking up. 

The time for that is over; I was born a farm girl and I will always be a farm girl. I'm finally stepping up to use my God given talents to spread the word and the truth. I plan on creating a daily photoblog filled with photos I've taken and facts I've gathered to share the truth about America's number one industry. The posts will be from my heart and from the perspective of someone who has lived the agriculture life. I hope you'll come on this journey with me!