Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Billy Paul

Today is my husband's birthday. Today, and for the next 8 days, he and I are the same age. And then I will be a year older than him, and he never lets me forget it. So I will RELISH these next 8 days!!!

I have known him for more than half of my life. Heck, I have been married to him for more than half of my life.

And I love him today more than I did back then. Because, as anyone who has been happily married for a long time will tell you, love GROWS. Love grows because of things you've enjoyed together, and love grows through hard times you've gone through together. Love grows on those days when you are reminded just why, out of all the people on earth, you chose HIM. Love grows because you choose for it to grow and I CHOOSE to love this man for the rest of my life. Very easy choice. He is the BEST!

So happy birthday, babe!!! I hope this is your best one yet.
Now, I know what you're thinking, you want to know how old he is. But, if I tell you how old HE IS, then it's the same as telling you how old I AM, because I just told you we are the same age as of today.
You really wanna know??
O.K. I'll tell you.
He's 44!

Turkey Chronicles - Chapter One

Now you all know I live on a farm. But I don't know if you know that I live on a TURKEY farm. In addition to raising beef cattle, we raise turkeys for Cargill, the largest privately held corporation in the world (I'm just full of information, aren't I?). The turkeys live their lives on our farm from just a few hours after they hatch until they make that final drive to the processing plant. When they arrive at Griffith Farms they are between 12 to 24 hours old. And they arrive in plastic crates in a climate controlled truck. The truck shows up at our farm at all different hours of the day and night. This particular flock of turkeys arrived about 9:30 p.m. We've gotten turkeys on Christmas Eve, New Year's Day, hot days, cold days, rainy days, you name it. For what it's worth, the night we got these baby turkeys it had been nearly 100 degrees during the day and was still nearly 90 degrees at 9:30 p.m. when the birds arrived. But, the baby turkeys have to be kept at about 92 degrees the first few weeks of their lives so we have propane "stoves" burning in the turkey barn to keep the chicks warm. Believe it or not, it was cooler outside than inside. Yeah, I know, why would anybody wanna be a turkey farmer :)?????

A tremendous amount of work goes into getting the barn ready for baby turkeys. We have one brooder barn, where the baby chicks will live until they are 6 or 7 weeks old. Then we have three growout barns where the birds will live out the rest of their lives, but that's another chapter in the Turkey Chronicles. First the barn is cleaned and fresh litter (wood shavings) are spread evenly all over the floor. Pens are set up using brooder guard. Then feed and water have to be put out. This is what the empty barn looks like, ready to receive baby turkeys.

And this is the empty, clean-smelling pen.

These are the crates that hold 100 baby turkeys each. I counted. Not really.

This flock we got 21,700 turkeys, which means we got 217 crates. These crates are unloaded from the Cargill truck, then loaded onto a flatbed trailer and then a truck drives the trailer down the center of the barn so that the crates can be unloaded from the trailer and set out by the pens. This flock, there were about 700 birds to a pen.

It takes several people to get this all done, and the more help you have, the faster the process goes. We should have had more kids. We only have two and, yes, they were helping us. It's hard to get help at 2 a.m., or on Christmas Eve, or when it's really hot, or really cold. Actually its hard to get help on a turkey farm most of the time. It's hot, dirty, stinky work, that's for sure.

This is the birds after they have been put into their pen. They are walking around looking for food and water, which is their main goal in life.

Isn't this baby turkey chick cute? She (yes, these are all girls) is really soft and yellow, just like a baby chicken. But, oh, I promise you, this cute little chick gets U-G-L-Y really quickly. And I mean UGLY!!!!!

My goal is to show you the progress of the turkeys once a week from the day they arrive, to the day they are shipped. Just in case you think you want to grow up to be a turkey farmer, I want you to know what you're getting into!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fescue Season

When you live where I live, we're not so much concerned with what the date is, as we are what season it is. I mean, there's garden season, fescue season, hay season. Well, right now at our house, its fescue season.

We combine fescue seed. Fescue seed is a tiny little seed that is used to sow grass around houses and along new highways, anywhere you want grass to grow fairly quickly. While the economy was booming (think back a few years) fescue was a great cash crop for us because there were so many new houses being built across the U.S. and so many new highway projects that the demand for fescue seed was unbelievable. And, according to the laws of supply and demand, the price just kept going up and up and up. But, with the current recession the demand for fescue seed has plummeted and, so has the price per pound. But when you farm you take what you can get from the land, whatever it is, however much it is. So this season of the year there's alot of THIS going on at my house.

And this.

And this.

You see, farm equipment breaks down . . . a lot. Especially equipment that sits about 50 or 51 weeks out of the year. So you have to grease everything up, and readjust the belts, and change the spark plugs, so those few days of the year when the days are hot, and the moisture content is acceptable and the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars (name that song!) you are ready to roll.

So hopefully, for the next few days, Billy Paul and Cole will be rollin' rollin' rollin' combining fescue seed. A heavy rain storm or wind will knock the seed out of the head and then fescue season is done. Until next year that is.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Home Grown

Do you remember a few weeks ago I posted about plowing our garden and planting onions? Well, I'm gonna show you what those onions look like now!!!!

And this is what our tomatoes look like.

This is what our green beans look like.

And this, this our corn.

Those green beans will be canned. Hopefully we will have about 120 quarts. The corn will be cut off the cob and frozen. The tomatoes will be made into the best salsa you've ever eaten. The onions will be used in the salsa and the rest will be stored for use all winter long.
A garden is a lot of work. Planting, weeding, picking. Especially on days like today when it is seriously 100 degrees and the humidity is stifling. But, if you've ever eaten home grown food you know that it just can't be beat. Nothing that comes out of a box or a jar even comes close. Trust me. I know of which I speak.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I Love My Dad

Father's Day is a holiday that sometimes gets treated like a second class day. Dads don't want balloons or flowers. Dad's don't want corsages or perfume. All the things that make Mother's Day SO EASY just don't work for Father's Day. My dad doesn't golf, he doesn't fish, he doesn't have a hobby. He has more clothes than I do (seriously) and he is extremely hard to buy for.

But that doesn't mean that Father's Day doesn't remind me of how very much I love my dad, and remind me of how much he loves me. Although my dad isn't the most demonstrative person, I have never doubted for a minute that my dad loves me just like I love my kids, and would do anything for me. So dad, don't YOU ever doubt how very much I love you!

I LOVE YOU DAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Earlier this month, Cole spent a week in St. Louis as a member of the 2009 Missouri AgriBusiness Academy.

He toured Learfield Communications, the Brownfield Network, and FCS Financial in Jefferson City, then headed off to St. Louis.

While there, they visited the Gateway Arch, Monsanto, Theis Greenhouse, Osborn & Barr, and several other agriculture related businesses. They had a chef from the University of Missouri give them an etiquette lesson in fine dining, and speakers from such organizations as the Missouri Beef Council challenged them concerning the exciting future of agriculture in Missouri. The final day, they toured Stone Hill Winery in Hermann, had lunch there, then headed back to the Capital Rotunda for a commencement ceremony.

He had a great time. What a wonderful opportunity. A great big THANK YOU to everyone who recommended that Cole be selected for the AgriBusiness Academy!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Goin' Up Up Up

$2.49. That is the price for gasoline and diesel in Eldon today. $2.49 is a dollar a gallon MORE than the lowest price we paid just a few months ago. And, in Jefferson City, the price is $2.59 per gallon.

Friday, June 12, 2009

4-H Cake Decorating

Alex is a member of the Spring Garden 4-H Chapter. This is her second year to participate in cake decorating. For her first cake, Alex did a cake with a cow face on the front. This year, she decided to do a pair of cowgirl boots and let me tell you, I think it turned out FABULOUS. Of course, I'm a little bit prejudiced but, hey, I do know fabulous when I see it. Alex owes her creativity to her Grandma Bobette. I am not crafty but my mother-in-law can make just about anything and Alex gets it from her.

I must tell you that cake decorating actually doesn't start out with a "cake" at all. It starts out with an empty box, spray painted white, and glued to a board covered in foil. The Miller County fair, where Alex will "show" her cake, isn't until next month and a real cake wouldn't last anywhere near that long, so the kids decorate a box.

The bread and butter of cake decorating, so to speak, is Royal Icing. I had never hard of Royal Icing prior to last year's cake decorating. Royal Icing is made from meringue powder (I'd never heard of that either, but you can buy it at Wal-Mart), powdered sugar and water. Yes, I have heard of those ingredients and they can be purchased at Wal-Mart too. I made two "batches" of icing for Alex's cake.

Alex started by spreading the icing over the box. This forms the base for the decorating. Alex found a picture of some Ariat boots online, blew up the picture, printed it out, cut it out, then laid it on top of the iced cake.

The next step is dyeing the icing. We use Wilton icing colors to dye the royal icing. You have to mix the color into the icing COMPLETELY so there aren't any streaks. It is also important to make as much of each color as you think you will need since it is nearly impossible to make another batch of icing the same color as you made the first time.

Alex started the actual decorating by outlining the boots in black using a Wilton tip made for outlining. You want it to look like a picture in a coloring book and then you use the icing to fill in the lines.

After she outlined the picture and mixed all the colors, Alex was ready to start filling in. To do that, she used a Wilton star tip. You just use your different colors, put them in a plastic bag, attach the star tip and make little stars all over your design.

You just keep making stars in whatever color you want, until the entire picture, in this case the boots, are filled in. Then, to finish off the cake, Alex made white stars all over the top and sides of the cake, then used a larger star tip to make the border.

Royal icing dries extremely hard and will last forever. Once the icing is dry, a baseball bat wouldn't break it. That is why royal icing isn't used to ice a sheet cake, or a cake you actually intend to eat, although when the icing is soft it tastes very sweet.

Ahhhh, a cowgirl and her boots! Ain't that a purty sight to see????!!!!!

Friday, June 5, 2009

South Dakota

On the last day of school, Cole headed out to South Dakota with the Eldon FFA. This was the "'Participation Trip" for the top 30 FFA kids. They traveled through the Badlands.

Cole thought they were pretty, in a "weird way."

Then on to Mt. Rushmore.

Very impressive.

The next stop was the Crazy Horse Monument which is, as of yet, not completed.

Cole told us that the Black Hills were his favorite. A very beautiful part of the United States.

Sure are glad you're home, Cole. We missed you!!!!