Friday, October 30, 2009

Fall Harvest

This is what we look like when we're around home most of the time! For perspective on how tall the corn is, my husband is 6' tall without shoes on - this was some VERY tall corn!

As wet and rainy as it's been this year (the corn pictured was under water above the ears once this summer, and the river's been out on it at least one other time, as well) we've been able to get some corn and soybeans harvested. Yields have been good, but we're having some trouble with mold in the ears of corn, which is really not good! It varies - one field has beautiful corn, the next has nasty mold in it.

It seems we get a few dry days to run, and then it rains and we have to take several days off, but haven't had too much trouble with mud, which is very good.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Great Article!

Please take the time to go read this article - it really sums up a lot of what goes through my mind when it comes to the commonly held viewpoint of "modern" agriculture....only much more articulately than I could phrase it!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Recently I was flipping through a farm magazine, "Successful Farming" from May-June 2009, and I found an ad put out by Pfizer Animal Health. It had an eye-catching picture: a hog building with a large picture of a pig on the front and side. The caption said, "This is not a pig."

So, I read the small print in the paragraph at the bottom, and within that paragraph was this sentence:

"To us, Individual Pig Care means ensuring every pig has the proper feed, water, environment and health interventions to be free of pain, disease, discomfort and injury."

Okay. I believe every animal must be cared for properly, which includes feed, water, environment, and health interventions. I fully agree with that.

But what REALLY gets to me is the last half of that sentence:

free of pain,



and injury.

Lately you hear animal rights folks using these words and declaring them as a right that animals must be given. Sounds good, doesn't it?? The trouble is, that is absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to achieve!! I don't even know a single human being who has even one day that does not include the things on that list. Pain, disease, discomfort, injury. It happens to all living things, even people, and I see absolutely no reason why some think animals should somehow be exempt from that.

For me, I firmly believe that God created people to be above animals and in dominion over them. As such, we have a strong responsibility to treat our animals well and with respect. The trouble I have is when you try to grant animals rights that even humans do not have, and will not have until Heaven.

It really bothers me when I see people mistreating animals: starving them, beating them, neglecting them. But it also really frustrates me that there are folks who take farmers in agriculture and distort the way they are raising their livestock and attempt to describe that as mistreatment - that is just ridiculous. Give the animals proper feed, water, environment, and health interventions (no successful livestock farmer ignores these things!) and save the outcry for the animals who truly are being abused, or for children or other human beings who are experiencing pain, discomfort, disease, and injury.

Many people die daily from lack of clean water to drink, diseases such as malaria, children born to drug addicted or HIV positive mothers, genocide, human trafficking - all these things are going on. Yet, all some people seem to be able to think about are the (poor?!?) farm animals who have constant access to clean, cool water, feed that is formulated specifically to their life-stage, high-tech ventilation. Perhaps they live inside a barn, in conditions that a human would not want to live in....but people and animals are drastically different, and have different needs in housing.

It strikes me as funny that one could object to an animal living it's life in a so-called "factory farm" building, not having to fight or struggle for food or water, then be hauled on a livestock trailer close to the other animals it has lived with before for comfort as well as help them keep their feet - they lean on each other while riding on the trailer. What is the difference, really, from a human living in a NYC apartment, getting on the crowded subway to go to work in an office building?

It just bothers me that there is such a disconnect from the "rights" some want to claim for animals, and reality of what is actually within the realm of possibility in this imperfect world. I just would like to see a stronger desire to improve human well-being, and quit trying to create some kind of "ideal" world.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Spring Planting

Photo of my husband greasing the bearings on a piece of tillage equipment, hooked up to the John Deere 4640 tractor with duals on, right after we got home from church on Sunday morning. No time for the farmer to rest when it's planting or harvest time!

I am so proud of my husband and the rest of the farmers out there - whether full time or part time! They work hard, long, sweaty hours without complaint in order to feed the nation (and other countries) safely, reliably, and affordably.

He got home from his off-farm job Wednesday evening, and started the plan for working on the farm all day Thursday, Friday, Saturday, late morning to evening on Sunday, and if it wouldn't have rained Monday mid-morning, he'd have been hard at it then, too!

We got a lot of good work done, disking and then using the till-oll on the majority of the corn ground, even was able to drill one of the soybean fields, until it did rain enough to stop the work in the field on Monday. But once the rain stopped they got back to work cleaning out and fine-tuning the corn planter.

Farmers are certainly some of the most hard-working group of people, and there's only about 3% of the US who farm today that provide safe, affordable food for the country quite efficiently. So many are disconnected from the farming life that they have not a clue where that box of cereal came from, or that dozen eggs, except "the grocery store." There's more to it than that - the labor of love that the farmers across the nation have put into their end product, be it that calf that was fattened for the hamburgers you had on the grill this Memorial Day weekend, the wheat for the buns, the tomatoes and lettuce you put on it, the cold, sweet watermelon, the baked beans - even the cold beer you had as you manned the grill - all that was likely a result of the American farmer.

So, next Memorial Day weekend, thank a Veteran, pray for those who are serving your country overseas, and be grateful for our military men and women who are willing to risk their lives for our safety. But also, remember to think every now and then of the farmer who provides the food for your tables.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Working the Cows

A young calf after just having had a drink of milk from his mother! See his "milk mustache"??

The weekend after Easter we treated the brood cows for lice and dewormed them. I've never had the opportunity to help with this chore, and it was an experience! The mature cows are much more difficult to handle and contain than the smaller calves. The calves get handled (vaccination and castration) at weaning and then vaccinated and fly-tagged as yearlings before getting turned out on pasture for the summer. Then they get slowly brought up on feed and are typically market weight (around 1200 lbs) before they are 2 years old. So when the calves are being vaccinated and worked in the cattle chute, they are pretty easy to get to walk into the chute since they haven't had much experience yet. The older cows are a different story - they've been there, done that, and our cows aren't tame.

The picture below shows the chute that we created for the cows to walk into, with the homemade door that is super heavy-duty to keep them from running out before they got treated. Matt's inside the chute that went along the barn, getting ready to pick up the short aluminum gate that his dad used to help move the cows down into the chute. He just had to use the gate as a visual, to show the cows where he wanted them to go.

Usually he would get two or three cows to come in at a time, then he would stand behind the last cow to keep her from running back towards the rest of the herd that hadn't been treated. In the picture below, Matt is holding the dewormer/delouser in his left hand, and is squirting the product along the cow's back, from withers to tail head.

Once each group was treated, I would open the gate and let them out, and Danny would bring the next group in, Matt would treat them, and so on. The last one to go was the bull. He is BIG!

We then separated him out from the herd so that we will have a break in when the cows start calving again. He'll get put back in with the cows to in another month or so. All the cows and their calves got turned back out onto fresh grass pasture, and will be rotated around all summer and into the early fall.

Our Cora loves sitting on the tractor and getting her picture taken - so no surprise to see such a happy smile!

Beginning to Plant Garden!

On Friday evening we were able to disk up our garden, winds kept blowing, weather was warm and in the 80s! By Saturday afternoon it was dry enough to use the garden tiller, and we planted a few things in our garden: radishes, carrots, lettuce, spinach, 2 rows of sweet corn. Cora enjoyed this immensely, and had a great time getting dirty!

Then on Sunday afternoon we worked on planting the potatoes in the newly disked potato patch with Cora and my in-laws. Matt wanted a new place to plant potatoes and so he disked up an area about 50x100'. (this is purely a guess at the size - it could be way off!) We started by cutting potato chunks with eyes for planting, using 50# of Kennebec potatoes. Then dug a little trench using a handheld plow pulled by the 4Wheeler, added fertilizer and mixed it in, and started placing the eyes about a foot apart. We ended up with I think 13 rows of potatoes, and then 3 rows of yellow onion sets.

The calves in the next pasture came over to enjoy the shade and watch all the action:

Then after all the eyes and sets were planted, the guys used the hoe to cover them up.

Not a bad way to spend one of the first truly warm weekends outside! We will be enjoying these potatoes and onions this fall and winter! Homegrown potatoes really are MUCH more delicious than any you can buy at the grocery store.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Weeding is one of my least favorite activities. We haven't planted our vegetable garden yet - probably won't be dry enough until middle of May. But, my flower beds around the house have started sprouting weeds, and it's time they got banished.

I find this job to be easier the day after a good soaking rain. It's easier to get the entire root system of the plant with the soft, wet ground, and with some weeds, if you don't get the whole tap root the first time, you are really IN for it. Like Jewel weed, if you don't get the whole taproot, just the first inch or so underground, that sucker will keep growing back bigger and bigger all summer.

My daughter had fun getting to "help" me. I gave her a little trowel to dig around with in the mulch, and she did a great job of getting wet and muddy!

This is the first year (we've lived her starting late summer 2005) I have actually started off the year on top of the weed situation. I surely hope to continue - the quicker I get control of the small plants, the easier my job will be! I still need to regain control of the strawberry beds, but we've got a good start!

Monday, April 13, 2009


Before any of our goats had started kidding, and before any of the cows had started calving, I had mentioned to my father-in-law that I hoped that all the births would go smoothly this year.

“So what?” You might ask??

Well I hope all the births go well, including the birth of our second child! My husband and I are expecting a new baby due to arrive around the end of October, first of November. Cora, our firstborn daughter, will be 22 months when she becomes a big sister.

We are very excited, and eagerly look forward to meeting our new baby!

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Visitor

Here is a photo of the visitor my husband found when he turned on our front porch light to see how hard it was raining: A little black calf who'd wandered under the electric fence!

There was one little calf who did this last year, too. I wonder if it is a calf from the same momma cow? My husband and his dad showed him his way back under the fence, but I think we will see him back here more than once. The cows all have a shed with a roof they can get into and under if it rains, but I guess he wanted a little privacy! Too cute.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Off Topic

I want to take the time to make everyone aware of an issue that is going on right now that jeapordizes a parent's right to parent their children. View my blog post here. Check out for more details.

This is a serious issue that has big time implications, and as usual it has a nice sounding name. It's the "United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child." With a title like that, it actually sounds like a good thing, but what it really means is that if your child doesn't like some of the limits you as their parent place on them, then they could be separated from you. I go into further detail at the other blog post, so I ask you to PLEASE check it out, and be sure to visit for more details and to take further action.

If you are a parent, or care about the future of this country and our children, please take the time to check out the links I posted. Thanks!

Friday, February 27, 2009

What's that I hear?

Yes, the sound of spring coming!

Yesterday we first heard the sound of the Spring Peepers! The high pitched song of the frogs first coming out is a sure sign of spring coming!

The buds are beginning to form on the trees, looking out across the fields at the woods you can see a tinge of red where the new leaves are beginning to form. Yet another signpost of spring!

And certainly you can't have spring without Robins! The robins have arrived, hopping about the lawn looking for their next meal. The lovely brown, red-breasted birds are a cheerful reminder that warmer weather is just now coming upon us.

Our daffodils are beginning to poke through the frosty ground, and soon the crocus will bloom.

Anticipation of new birth, as well, calves and baby kids will soon be born and frolicking about the newly greening pastures.

Oh, what a wonderful, hopeful time of year spring is!

Praise God for giving us the fresh breath of spring air after the cold wind and freeze of winter! What an almighty and loving God we serve!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

First Goat Babies of the Year!

Cookie the goat had her kids yesterday - twins - a doeling and a buckling. Very cute. The black/grey/white one is the buckling, the tan/white one is the doeling. They were just hours old in this picture.

I am so glad that she gets to raise some goat babies!

This goat was purchased with 8 other does in May 2007, at 4 months old. We ear tagged them, and this goat wound up as #7. She was very good at getting on the other side of fences. As a result of this, she ended up being bred earlier than we had anticipated, and kidded in early February of 2008 in very cold and windy temperatures - her kids that year were born dead.

Not wanting #7 to be a complete loss - I started milking her, and we froze the milk to save for other goat kids that might need it, and goat's milk makes some great ice cream!

At first, she resisted milking, because she was not tame, and didn't want anything to do with people. Eventually, she came to realize that it was a good deal to get to stand in the goat worker (like a milking stand) with feed to eat while I milked her and relieved pressure on her udder! She adopted me. She would lick me whenever she got the chance, BAAAA for me anytime I left the goat lot or the barn - calling for me, her "baby kid" to come back!

In March that year we adopted our first Livestock Guardian Dog, Brody. He was just over a year old and had a lot of puppy in him. Our goats were afraid of him, though he was very good with them. I hadn't realized the extent of #7's "claiming" of me until she went out of her way (as scared as she was of Brody) to put herself between me and Brody. If he got too close to me, she would stomp her front feet and snort at him, the way does do when their kids are in danger. She even went so far as to butt Brody away! This is when I started calling her Mommy Goat, and rightly so, as she had claimed me for sure as her kid!

Well, after the weather had warmed up enough for my daughter to come outside with us, I decided I had to change what I called this goat from Mommy Goat to something else - I didn't want my daughter to be confused! Since the goat is black in the front, white in the middle, and black in the back (she looks like an Oreo cookie) she's kept the name Cookie. It suits her.

So, Cookie now has kidded for her second time, and has live babies to raise and lick and feed. She still hasn't forgotten me though - as I was helping her kids find the udder, she alternated between licking her kids and licking me! I know she'll do a great job mothering those kids!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Summer Garden Plans

I made an order from for our plants for our garden. They had a coupon in there that expires tomorrow.

We are getting:

Green Beans
Lettuce Blend
Yellow Onions

We also always plant sweet corn, tomatoes, Kennebec potatoes, and we have a strawberry bed. Last year I started some purple asparagus.

I hope to do more freezing and preserving this year than in previous years.

Thinking of all this fresh produce to come is making me hungry!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Beginning to Welcome Warmer Days

How's this for a cute chore helper?? It's my daughter, who is 14 months old. It was in the high 30's/low 40s this morning when I did chores, so she got to come along!
The wagon really helps with this.

Since I was carrying the bucket IN the wagon, the feed bucket tipped over and out spilled some dog food and some corn kernels. Cora was very helpful in putting the corn back in the little bucket for me :-)

You can see a couple of the Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dogs in the background, and two of our goats at the feeder Matt and I built. Our buck is at the left, and to his right is one of our does. The feeder works great for the goats who love to put their feet on things anyway, and it keeps them from soiling in their feeder.

Cora loves being outside and looking at the animals, so helping with chores is a good thing for her :-)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

After last week's ice and snow storm

At top: the South pasture fenceline.
At Center: our house rooftop and lightning rod at an angle, with a view of the moon
At bottom: South pasture sunset - silage wagon at right, road at left.
The snow is pretty, but I'm ready for it to warm up and melt off! It will make doing chores much easier! Forecasted in the 40s and 50s for this weekend.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Snow and Ice and Chores

This week we have been given several inches of snow, followed by sleet and ice, followed by EVEN MORE SNOW!

This makes for nasty cold weather that is very hard to walk in.

If anyone ever wonders whether the farmers who raise livestock truly love their animals and want what's best for them, the proof is when even nasty weather like this never stops us from going out and checking on them, feeding them, and making sure they have thawed water to drink.

This is NOT an easy chore - walking along, your feet drag through the snow, punch through the layer of ice, then on down a few more inches into even deeper snow! Especially hauling feed buckets and hay and water buckets.

The critters keep warm, God has blessed them with several layers of warm hair insulating the snow and ice to keep them comfortable. We give them a little extra hay to help generate the body heat, and the Lord takes care of the rest.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

An Explanation

As we wait for the warmth of spring to come again, and with it planting and haytime and harvest, I want to explain about why I chose the name for this blog, and hopefully to help remind everyone about some of the joy of the seasons to come.

I have spent many summer nights driving home with the windows down, full moon lighting up the darkness, and enjoying the smells of the country in the summertime.

Sometimes it would be the corn tasselling, or just the freshness of the night air. But my favorite air to breathe as it comes sweeping in the car windows is that of the freshly cut hay fields, waiting to be baled.

And almost every time I drive past one of these hayfields, I start humming the chorus of the song, “Indiana” in my head. I had to learn to sing it in school:

Back home again in Indiana,
And it seems that I can see
The gleaming candlelight still shining bright
Thru the sycamores for me,
The new-mown hay sends all its fragrance
From the fields I used to roam,
When I dream about the moonlight on the Wabash,
Then I long for my Indiana home.


I remember in high school many of my classmates claiming that they couldn’t wait to get out of Indiana. Not so for me! I love this Hoosier state, its seasons, the trees, the hills, the rivers, the family and friends I love who live here.

There are many places in Indiana that are home for me, between my parents’ home, the area around my high school, the Purdue West Lafayette campus that introduced me to the Wabash, the county fairgrounds and state fairgrounds where I grew up in 4H, and now my home with my husband where we farm part time, and yearn to eventually do it full time.

I know the feeling that Macdonald felt when he wrote about the place he called home – the place where he could see for miles off if he looked through the trees just right, where he knew the smells, wondered at the fireflies in the dark among the grasses blowing in the wind, and knew there was a special someone or a memory waiting for him when he got there.

The title of this blog is a nod to all of my Indiana homes, and recognition that home is the place you come back to, after you go and do and learn. Being home is a feeling. It says in the title page of this blog that it is “about our homeplace: a generations-old family farm where livestock, crops, gardens, and children are raised.” I hope that in the things that I post to this blog, I can relate to you not only the words, but also the feelings that go along with being at home in our place.

**For a link to the complete song and music of “Indiana”, click here:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pyrs, Pyrs, and More Pyrs!

Saturday brought 4 additional Great Pyrenees LGD's to our farm. Two working pairs: Max and Irma, and Clifford and Jack. All 4 Pyrs are being fostered for IGPR until they are adopted as working goat dogs, when they sadly lost their owner and goats due to a sudden heart attack.

This photo shows two of the dogs, Max and Irma, hanging out with Brody (our own LGD) and three of our goats. I had been a little concerned about how Brody would adjust to sharing his pasture and goats with other dogs, but HA, what a joke! He LOVES hanging out with Max and Irma!! Brody will be 2 in March.....and has a LOT of puppy left in him! He has been rough-housing a lot with his newfound playmates and loving every minute of it.

Clifford (a female!) and Jack are friendly, and are living with 4 does and our two horses. They seemed to adjust very well so far, just a matter of getting used to what is normal around here. Here is a picture of Clifford trotting around checking out her new digs, with the goats intently checking HER out!

All seem to be settling in very well.

Have you ever had the pleasure of having three GIGANTIC white dogs very politely standing in front of you, peering up with their beautiful dark eyes, pleading with you to please pet them? Just a gentle lean, not so much as to knock you off balance, but enough that you know they appreciate you. What gentle giants these dogs are!

Friday, January 16, 2009

More cold, More dogs?!?

So last night Matt made sure to do the chores before dark so it'd be a tiny bit warmer. He came back and said we might want to move Cookie (my favorite goat.....the only "named" goat....I'll probably post on her more later after she has her kids!) since her udder looked significantly bigger than it had looked.

We've had the goats since May 2007, and Cookie kidded once when the temperatures were so cold we think that the kids froze by the time we found them in the morning. Since then we've put the goats in the old farrowing house ('FH' - leftover from when they had pigs) that is kept above freezing for storing chemicals in the winter. We thought Cookie and #8 would kid before mid-December, so we had them both in the FH for a while, and only #8 kidded. So after the kid was 2 weeks old and we decided if Cookie hadn't kidded by then, she wasn't going to kid until mid-March, we put them back outside. Well, she's had lots of udder and vulva changes, and I know anything born outside in this weather basically had a death sentence, so to be safe we put her inside the FH last night. She seemed very happy to go! She knew it was warm in there! I don't know how she would kid now...the buck was removed, unless it was one of the older little buck kids that bred her. I'm glad she's safe now.

Also, I got a call from the people at where we got our LGD from, needing someone to foster up to 7 dogs! We agreed to foster 2 working groups out of the three, so we'll be having lots of big whites running around here by the weekend! The goats should be VERY safe!! Hope Brody gets along with them.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Single Digit Temperatures!

It was less than 5 degrees at chore time this morning, so needless to say I hurried!

The goats and horses were shivering quite a bit, but Brody the LGD was fine! He had a few drops of ice on his fur where he'd drooled, but the cold didn't phase him!

I fed a little extra hay, and had to de-ice one bucket. It is nice having an automatic waterer that is made not to freeze!

Monday, January 12, 2009


It's high time I begun this blog, and started writing posts for it. After all, it is a big part of why I began blogging in the first place!

At the 2008 Indiana Farm Bureau Young Farmer conference last January, one of the speakers talked about how farmers can best stand up for their right to farm the land, raise livestock, and feed America. These rights are being challenged more and more by a variety of groups, and agriculture is at risk.

One of the ways was to get into the "blogosphere" by posting comments and blogging about the things we do on our farms and getting onto the animal rights and environmentalists blogs and leaving challenging (yet polite) comments to try to educate others about what we really do and why it is the right thing to do.

So, this is my hope for this blog:

  • Talk about our farm operation and why we do the things the way we do them

  • Explain why it's morally acceptable to eat meat and raise livestock

  • Share information that may help others who also farm or who are interested in learning more about it

Specific things we raise that may be discussed on this web log:

  • Charolais/Angus Beef - We have a 60 cow/calf operation, and finish the calves born as well as buying and finishing feeder calves

  • Meat Goats - We have a small herd of boer cross meat goats, with about 10 mature does.

  • Livestock Guardian Dogs - To protect our investment in the goats, we have a Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dog. LGD's are bred to protect small livestock from predators (coyotes, birds of prey, etc.)

  • Rotational/Management Intensive Grazing - A good way to increase pastureland productivity

  • Corn

  • Soybeans

  • Hay - Both for sale off the farm and to feed our animals

  • Wheat/Straw - Most of this is raised to bed down our animals

  • Corn Silage - Chopped by our neighbor, used to feed our cattle and goats in the winter months

  • Vegetable Garden - My family's personal garden, we grow sweet corn, potatoes, onions, green beans, strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce, radishes, garlic....and are always interested in trying new things. Most of this produce is stored for our family's use by freezing and home-canning. We also eat a lot of it as it's picked!