Taste of Indiana Farms

October 6, 2011

One of the fun things I got to do at the Indiana State Fair in August was to run the Farm Bureau Taste of Indiana Farms booth for the southwest part of Indiana.

Each part of the state (“districts,” in Farm Bureau talk) had a commodity to feature. We had pork. Yum!volunteers sm

I worked with Dewig’s Meats so we had some great barbecued pulled pork to give away to everyone who came through the three-day event. We had some great volunteers from our district, including my husband. Hubby Doc had a blast talking to almost 5000 people over three days!!john sm

There was free popcorn in the front of the building, and lots more free food in the back of the building.popcorn sm

Everybody had a blast, even the kids!strollers in line sm

This is not just a Farm Bureau event! The Indiana Watermelon queen was there, giving out watermelon slices.watermelon queen sm

And the Indiana Honey Queen was there, passing out honey samples.honey queen sm

(We tried to get them to have a Queen showdown, to see who was the “Top Queen,” but they wouldn’t go for it. Such well-behaved young ladies!)

Did I mention that Indiana Pork gave us temporary pig tattoos to give out? Everybody wanted a pig tattoo, even me! (I may have put on more than one…)pig tattoo sm

Yes, you could say I got into the spirit of things and collected some flair over the couple of days…flair sm

Mark your calendars – we’ve already got the dates scheduled for next year! Come visit us in the Farm Bureau building at the Indiana State Fair on August 14-16, 2012. I’ll be organizing fruit for next year, so come on by and learn what kind of fruit Indiana grows. I bet you’ll be surprised! There will be free popcorn, free food, and more flair than you can shake a stick at! What else is there?

Oh, and the whole rest of the fair. You’ll probably want to see that also.

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Young Farmers take a trip

August 14, 2011

Every year, the Farm Bureau District 9 Young Farmers group tries to get together and go on a tour of an agricultural operation in southwest Indiana. Last year, we visited New Generation Dairy in Gibson County.

This year, we headed to Perry County, on the other side of our district, to visit Blue Heron Winery and Phil Etienne’s Timber Harvest.

We got a very nice tour of the little winery.

Blue Heron Winery uses stainless steel tanks to age all their wine.stainless tanks

There are sculptures and pictures of herons hiding all over the winery.herons

We got a chance to get up close and personal with some of their grapes, and we had a chance to taste some of their more popular wines.grapes

I brought home a bottle of their On Deck Red. I also meant to get a bottle of their cherry wine, but I grabbed a bottle of blueberry instead. That’s okay, I like blueberry, too!

And did I mention the view? They are high above the Ohio River and have a great view of the river, and Kentucky on the other side.winery view

One of the other features this winery has is the Celtic Cross.celtic cross

This sculpture was carved out of a natural rock formation. It took the sculptor 11 months, working dawn to dusk, 6 days a week.

You can see where they did some excavating to uncover more of the rock (below the dark diagonal line, the rock was buried in the hillside). The rock had an odd leaning shape, so the base of the cross “stepped out” of the rock to match the natural angle.celtic cross back

There is some beautiful detail in the sculpture.celtic cross detail

We also went to a timber yard. This wasn’t as exciting for me (I wanted to go try some of my wine!), but the boys seemed to like it.circular saw

I guess anytime you are dealing with huge power tools, the boys perk up and pay attention. band saw

We ended the day with a picnic and some grilling in part of the Hoosier National Forest. This was one of those weekends that was ridiculously hot, but in the forest, in the shade, by the lake, with a frosty beverage, it didn’t seem all that bad!


County fair, check!

July 11, 2011

Our county fair wrapped up on Saturday. Hubby Doc just loves the fair. He is on the fair board, and takes a week of vacation so he can work at the fair all week.

I do not have the same love for the fair. I didn’t grow up around it, I was never in 4-H, and frankly, most of the time I just don’t get it.

This year, I took the plunge and volunteered to be one of the photographers for the many events at the fair. I was hot and sweaty all week (and tired!), but I got some great photos!

Now, I didn’t get around to all the events (we have a lot going on!), but here’s the highlights of the ones I did get…

This was the second year we had an adult pedal tractor pull. Here is Hubby Doc competing. john pedal tractor

I also pulled, and won the girls’ class. But the pictures were… shall we say… unflattering. So I will not post them. Not even if you beg.

Of course, lots and lots of animals. Some goats hanging out waiting their turns…goats

A cow getting all gussied up for her show…cattle show 

And a horse trying very hard not to mess up his pretty hair.fancy braids

We also had some dog agility classes this year. There was agility for big dogs…big agility 2

And for little dogs…little agility

Next year, I want to start a cat agility class. I will enter Martin.

Or maybe not…

We had some go-kart racing.go karts

(Seriously, how did I get that picture? Wow!)

We played volleyball in the mud (and by “we,” I most certainly do not mean “me.”)mud volleyball 1

mud volleyball 2

And because we didn’t get enough mud on volleyball night, we also wrestled pigs in the mud.hog wrestling

And we had a demo derby, with plenty of crash-bang-smoke-fire. Everyone (apparently) loves a good demo derby.demo derby

The final night of the fair was the Lee Brice concert. I missed that because my good friend Kristi got married the same night at Turkey Run State Park. Wedding… country concert… wedding… country concert. Yep, it wasn’t much of a choice for me. Wedding!wedding

All that fun and excitement, and the fair only got rained out one night!lightening

One more Gibson County Fair down… and a whole year until the next one!


Garden party

April 1, 2011

Last weekend, District 9 of the Indiana Farm Bureau held a spring meeting at Family Roots Nursery in Dale, IN. It was a chilly, rainy day, but we had a blast inside the greenhouse!

Aaron and Andrea Peters, the owners, took care of most of the details for the day, and we all had a blast! Because we couldn’t really do much outside, they cleared a large area in the middle of the greenhouse, and we were able to have all our sessions and even lunch inside! DSC_0544

What a neat atmosphere!DSC_0547

We got a behind-the-scenes tour of how their operation works.DSC_0557

We learned about their irrigation and fertilizer systems.DSC_0566

And talked about where their plants come from (most are started on their farm in Illinois, and then shipped to the greenhouse in Indiana when they are close to ready for sale).DSC_0596

Aaron told us about the types of plants that Thomas and Abraham Lincoln planted in their gardens and on their farms. Lots of the plants and crops we use today can be traced back to that farm!DSC_0554

(He gets a little passionate about that subject.)DSC_0643

Andrea told us about container gardening.DSC_0602

And she made it look so easy! She even convinced me to bring home things for a container herb garden of my own. DSC_0614

And, of course, I played with my new camera.DSC_0585

There was so much inspiration, it was hard to keep my hands off the shutter!DSC_0577

It made me ready for spring!!DSC_0593

Look! A pineapple! (Did you know that in this climate it takes almost six years for a single fruit to grow to maturity? No wonder we don’t grow pineapples in Indiana! And see, I learned something on this trip, too!)DSC_0589

I really wish I had a green thumb… Maybe my flower gardens will magically look pretty this year? Or maybe I’ll head back to Family Roots Nursery for one of their free Saturday seminars to get help…

Yes, that’s probably smarter than waiting on magic.DSC_0630

BTW, all these photos are straight out of the camera (SOOC). Have I mentioned that I am in love?


You ARE creative!

November 15, 2010

Thanks to everyone for your suggestions over the last week.  I had lots of great name options, here and at my Blogger blog (mirror site). 

All the names were great, and it was tough choosing my favorite.  I had my hubby chime in on the options.

My favorite suggestion was “AgriCulturing” by Kerry.  I love the idea of that!  The trouble is, the domain name “agriculturing.com” is not available.  All that is posted there right now is “coming soon,” and I don’t have a guess as to what will be there in the future, so I am hesitant to go for “agriculturing.net.” 

A very close second was Jessica’s idea of using the word “raising” in the name somewhere, to pull in the idea of raising food and raising families.  I also love that idea!

So, two winners!  Kerry and Jessica, please email me at alarmclockwars at gmail dot com and let me know where you want your Starbucks gift cards sent!

Now…  I’ve been brainstorming over the last week, and my current choice for a name for this budding business is “Farmers Raising Families.”  Any other brilliant ideas on this?

Thanks so much for all your help…  I had a ball reading the names as they came in!


Farm Equipment Fridays: Pressing Sweet Sorghum

November 12, 2010

FEF badge thumbnail(Miss the first part of the series?  Learn about harvesting sweet sorghum first!)

Now that the sorghum is harvested, we must press it to get the sugary juice out of the middle of the stalk.The inside of the sorghum stalks looks kind of pulpy, and tastes sweet if you chew on it (yes, I did).DSC_0230-1We want to press the stalks flat to squeeze all the sweet juice out of the pulpy middle.DSC_0352-1First we take the sorghum stalks off the trailer we loaded yesterdayDSC_0327-1And load them onto the sorting table.DSC_0395-1From there, the stalks are fed by hand into the tractor-driven press.  Most of the dry leaves pass through the press, but a lot of them also fall off the stalks before they get to the press.  By the end of the day, we were standing on a great cushion!DSC_0341-1The stalks go through the rollers on the pressDSC_0386-1And, well, they get pressed.  This press is a horizontal press, meaning the rollers are horizontal to the ground.  Most presses are usually vertical.

The stalks come out smushed flat on the other side DSC_0379-1 And the juice comes pouring out the spout in the middle.DSC_0376-1The squeezed stalks were taken away up a grain elevatorDSC_0333-1And into a really big pile.  Eventually, these squeezed sorghum stalks (say that three times fast!) will be composted and used back for fertilizer.  But squeezed sorghum stalks stick around for a while before they decompose.DSC_0355-1 Squeezed sorghum stalks.  Squeezed sorghum stalks.  Squeezed sorghum stalks.

Nevermind.

Anyway.  The juice from the squeezed sorghum stalks is pumped from the collection basin into the big tank on the back of the truck.  This tank holds 250 gallons.  By the end of the day, it was full!

Then we all went home and went to bed.  Only to get up and cook the juice into molasses the next day!

Instead of being driven by a tractor, presses used to be powered by horses.DSC_0378-1The stalks were fed into the vertical press by hand, as the horse walked around and around and turned the rollers.DSC_0373-1You just better be short enough so you don’t get hit in the head when the other side of the big stick comes around!  Same basic principle as what we did last month, except our horse power came from a tractor.  (These pictures are from Pioneer Village at the Indiana State Fair.  I believe the Pepsi cup in the second photo is an anachronism.  Oops.)

Oh, and here’s some proof that I actually helped with this part of the job, instead of just taking pictures.DSC_0311-1Buddy, on the other hand, wasn’t much help at all.  He was tired from all the harvesting yesterday, and hadn’t made it back from his sugar crash quite yet.  Poor Buddy.DSC_0309-1

Next week – the finale!

This episode starred:  Roy Boeglin, Cecil, me, and Buddy The Dog.

(Roy and Cecil can also be seen co-starring in the well saga.)


Are you creative?

November 9, 2010

I’m working on a business plan.  I know what I want to do, and I have a pretty good idea of how I want to do it.  I don’t know what I want to call it.

My goal is to help moms understand where the food they buy for their families comes from.

I want to help address some misconceptions in agriculture.  I want to help busy moms understand how food gets from the farms to their families.  I want to explain the procedures used in raising animals and crops for our food.  I want to talk about why things are done the way they are – with both the emotion and the science behind it.

What would you call this business?

Chime in with your suggestions.  I’ve got a Starbucks gift card to give away to my favorite name!

I’ll take suggestions until Sunday (November 14) at 10:00pm Central time.  I’ll pick my favorite, and post the gift card winner at 8:00pm Central time on Monday.

Give me as many options as you want…  No limits!