Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ethical Farming

Recently, the Pork Checkoff had a We Care Responsible Pork Production video contest. To enter the contest you simply had to put together a video showing how your hog farm lives by the ethical principals of the We Care Initiative. I am very excited to announce that the video I submitted won! You can read about the We Care Initiative by clicking here and you can read the Checkoff's little blurb about the contest (and me) by clicking here and you can watch the winning video by looking below this paragraph.

You can learn more about pork production by visiting the Pork Checkoff's site and by watching my YouTube channel the BaconCam (the BaconCam link is in the right margin).

What do you think of the video?
What would you like to know about hog farming?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

No hills? No problem. Missouri sledding

Sure Missouri has hills but we have some very, very flat land too. We happen to live smack in the middle of the state and it is pretty flat out here. Our children were devastated when we had our old cellar dozed in because that was the only hill they had for sledding. Naturally, after we had a decent snow the first thing our children complained about was no longer having a hill to sled from, my husband fixed that problem posthaste.

Hills? We don't need no stinking hills!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sustainable Pork

Here's a little something I put together showing just one of the many cycles of pork production. Enjoy.

Jump over to my YouTube channel The Bacon Cam to see more videos on modern pork production.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Post Christmas Cookies

I know Christmas is over but we made more cookies anyway, chocolate chip cookies if you couldn't tell. Besides, Santa ate all our Christmas cookies so we made post-Christmas cookies.

Of course the boy had to sneak a taste. He thought he was being sly but I caught him. 
Fresh from the oven.

Stacks of cookies cooling on the rack, the kids keep asking, "Are they ready yet? How 'bout now? Now?"

I couldn't help myself. I guess I'll tell the kids the cookies are ready...after I finish this one.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas this year and I hope Santa left you all a few cookies.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Filling Bellies in Texas

Needy bellies in Texas will be filled this holiday season thanks to America's pork producers. Pork producers are Spreading the Holiday Cheer by donating 3,500 pounds of pork to the North Texas Food Bank (NTFB). "Why Texas?" you might ask. Well, Texas has the highest rate of food insecurity in the country. In fact, 17 percent of Texans do not have enough food to go around, that is a lot of people.

Image from North Texas Food Bank
It warms my heart to see our nation's pork producers helping others. U.S. pork producers do so much more than just grow food for profit, we give back to our communities and help those in need. Pork producers care and we live by ethical principals. It isn't just some initiative set by some board that makes us live ethically and treat our animals well, we really do care. We've been doing this for generations, the National Pork Board just put what we believe in in writing with the We Care Initiative program.

How do you give back to your community?

Monday, December 13, 2010

10 Recipes to Ham Up the Holidays

Many of you will be serving up a holiday ham this Christmas season but how many ways can you cook a ham? Let's find out...

Image from Taste of Home website
1. Traditional Holiday Ham-- Here is a traditional recipe from Taste of Home that is sure to bring back memories of Grandma's kitchen. It is meant for a crowd and uses an 8-10 pound bone-in ham with pineapples and cherries, it looks delicious!

2. Country Ham-- This is another Taste of Home recipe that is sure to please. This ham is meant for a smaller crowd and uses a 3 pound boneless ham. Yum!

3. Glazed Ham-- Check your local grocery store for presliced hams with glaze packets. I have used these and they always turn out fantastic but just in case, here is a list of glaze recipes that are sure to be yum yum yum.

4. Christmas Ham-- This is another traditional recipe but this one comes from Paula Deen, it also involves orange marmalade, which is my favorite marmalade.
Photo from Food Network

5. Deep Fried Ham-- Here's another one from Paula Deen. If you're not worried about your waistline or cholesterol count  then this recipe is for you (if it's made with love and for Christmas then the fat, calories, and cholesterol are canceled out--unless you are under doctor's orders, do what the doc says).

6. Grilled Ham Steak-- Just feeding one or two? Here is a great way to grill up a larruping good ham steak with an apricot glaze.

7. Holiday Ham Kabobs-- I don't know about your family Christmas but we never have kabobs and to me that is a real same, I just love those little sticks full of yummy goodness. So, why not shake things up and offer these with the meal or as an esthetically pleasing appetizer.

Image by Georgeanne Brennan
from Everyday with Rachel Ray Mag
8. Green Eggs and Ham (yes they're real)-- Does your family have a Christmas breakfast or brunch? This is a fun and whimsical way to spice up your menu and you know it will be easy to make because it comes from Rachel Ray.

9. Ham Salad-- Great with those big veggie crackers or petite sammies to snack on before the big holiday meal and if you run out of time your local deli will have some (it's okay to cheat a little).

10. Hammy Cheese Ball--  To die for! This is an office favorite at my work place. It is great with any cracker you put it with and to make it look fancy you can take some of that confetti ham with some chives and roll the whole cheese ball to coat the outside. It looks great and tastes even better.

Friday, December 10, 2010

More on Advocating Agriculture

Recently, an article in Pork Network's newsletter was brought to my attention regarding how important it is for farmers and ranchers to "open up" to the public. Too often we forget how fortunate we are to be part of this amazing process called farming. However, we must keep in mind that 98 percent of this nation are not connected to agriculture other than what they see, read, or hear in the media or on the Internet. In this day and age of animal rights activists attacking animal ag and consumers' increasing concerns for the environment we need to put ourselves out there in order to help educate the public. They will not understand what we do or how we do it if someone does not take the initiative to educate them.

On that note, here is an agvocating recap:

In a previous post, Agvocating is Essential  and in a Suite101 article, Agvocating: Harvesting Social Media I highlight some of the basic ways to advocate agriculture but I would like you to keep in mind, you do not have to be a full time farmer or farm hundreds of acres to agvocate. You could blog about your neighbors' farm (with their permission, of course). This is not only a great way to learn about farming for yourself but also to get to know your neighbors better. You could blog about your gardening and the local farmer's market. You could keep up on Ag news and post your own commentary about recent headlines. You could even blog about your own questions, concerns, and curiosities about agriculture and then follow up with what you have found out. The blogging possibilities are endless, just use your imagination and start typing.

Videos are an amazing way to agvocate. They can be serious and show specific aspects of farming or...

They can be a bit goofy (maybe even dorky) while still making a point.

Videos are a huge part of agvocating because YouTube gets so many hits and you don't need to be an award winning director to produce a great YouTube video. In fact, it has been my experience that people prefer the rough-around-the-edges approach. Think of how huge reality shows have become and it makes sense, people want real life. You don't have to be doing anything exiting either. Keep in mind the daily chores you find mundane are actually fascinating to the masses because it is all totally new to them. Just film your cows grazing, someone throwing feed to pigs, or milking a cow, just about anything will work. If you don't have a YouTube account they are really easy to start and your information is kept secure, only the info that you allow will be available to others. If you've never uploaded a video and don't know how I'll bet your kids, grand kids, or the neighbor's kid could help you out. You can also leave me a message in the comments and I can try to answer any questions you may have or at least direct you to someone who can answer your questions.

Take a look at the BaconCam Channel for some more video ideas. What do you do to agvocate? What videos would you like to see about farming? Do you have an Ag blog you would like to share? Leave the link in the comments.

Christmas Recipes for the Gift Giving Season

Every Christmas the American public flock to stores like hungry piggies to a slop trough ravenous for their fill of holiday shopping, credit card debt, and gifts, gifts, gifts. But does Christmas have to break the bank year after year? Instead of spending your hard earned money on gifts that may be destined to the pitiful label of "return item" why not give everyone on your list some grub. The gift of grub is a gift sure to please and it is easy on your wallet as well.

Here are a few ideas to get you started on your Christmas list:

November 29, 2008
Flickr Photo by Joannie Grebe
Gifts in a Jar are a great and affordable way to give the gift of food to a loved one. These are especially handy if you have a big list and want to get everyone covered quickly and easily, you can buy your supplies in bulk and make several for everyone on your list. To spruce up these seemingly dull jars decorate them with a bit of fabric (9 inch circle) and tie the fabric on with ribbon, raffia, twine, or anything you may have handy at home. You can also purchase clearance kitchen items (like spoons, spatulas, muffin tins, mixing bowls, towels, etc.) and make a gift basket that looks great but cost you practically nothing.

cookies 2.jpg
Cookie photo by Jo Naylor

mints 5.jpg
Mints photo by Jo Naylor

Candies and Cookies in a tin are another happily received holiday gift. Who doesn't love sweets for Christmas and if you have a diabetic on your list it will give you a chance to experiment with some new recipes as well.

Here is a toffee recipe that I got from a co-worker, my family goes nuts over:

1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup stick butter
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Bring first three ingredients to a rolling boil stirring constantly, reduce to medium heat but continue to bubble, stir constantly for 13 minutes. Spread sugar mixture (toffee) onto ungreased cookie sheet about 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick. Sprinkle chocolate chips over toffee, when the chips melt spread evenly over toffee.

Treats made of Meats is a great gift idea for the manly man on your list. Deer meat is in abundance this time of year and your local butcher/meat processing center will surely have plenty of deer sticks and sausages ready for Christmas. Accompany some jerky, meat sticks, and/or sausage logs with a knife, sharpening stone, cutting board, beer, or anything else you can think of that your manly man will want to have with a basket full of meat.

Gourmet Taste of Italy Basket
Flickr Image by SherryCreates
A tisket, a tasket, put it in a basket. Any food products that your eager recipients favor you can make into a great holiday gift. Have a wine lover, put an inexpensive bottle of wine in a picnic basket with some cheese and crackers. Newly weds and new parents love gift cards, cash, a babysitting voucher, and quick meals, like hamburger helper, muffin mix, and kitchen utensils. You could wrap it all up in a strainer or mixing bowl to keep with the food theme.

Read about more ideas and find more links in my Suite 101 article Affordable Edible Christmas Ideas.

What great homemade gifts do you give?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

There's A Pig in My Bacon

As a Missouri pork producer, family farmer, mother, wife, and concerned consumer I feel it is my duty to call to your attention the frightening and somewhat ridiculous fact that the American people do not realize bacon and ham come from pigs. Shocking as this may seem, it is the only explanation that I can come up as to why the purchase of pork steak, pork roast, pork loin, pork chops, pork etc. drastically declined during the 2009 so-called "swine flu" panic, while bacon and ham actually increased in sales. Alternatively, since those products didn't have the word "pork" in their name, consumers may have felt that that particular section of the hog was unaffected by the flu virus. Not that you can get the flu from eating meat, unless of course, someone sneezed on it but this could too be the explanation, however unlikely.

I also feel that as a writer and agvocate (ag + advocate for those of you who don't tweet) I have a moral obligation to shed some light on the subject of swine. It is my moral duty to tell the world--or at least the American public--that there is, in fact, a pig in your bacon. The people have a right to know and I will uphold that right. Not only am I proclaiming the truth of your bacon's origins, I am going to tell you how that pig got in your bacon in the first place. The people need to know and it is high time the truth was told straight from the hogs mouth.

Stay tuned for more on this developing story...

Monday, November 29, 2010


We may be pork people and this is a pork inspired blog but let us not forget that ever important golden growth sprouting toward the sky year after year commonly called corn. Here are some interesting facts about corn from the National Corn Growers Association, printed in Corn and Soybean Digest.

  • Between 1987 and 2007, corn farmers have:
    • Reduced land use by 37%
    • Reduced energy use by 37%
    • Reduced irrigation by 27%
    • Reduced soil loss by a whopping 69%  
  • Corn growers produce more corn on less land:
    • In 2007, 86.5 million acres were farmed for corn producing 13.1 billion bushels
    • In 2015, it is projected 86.2 million acres will be farmed for corn producing 15.2 billion bushels
    • In 2020, it is projected only 83 million acres will be farmed for corn producing 17.0 billion bushels
  •  Corn lowers CO2 Emissions:
    • The U.S. EPA recognizes that corn ethanol provides a 21% to 52% GHG reduction compared to gasoline.
  • Corn farming keeps it in the family:
    • 95% of corn farms are family farms (including ours)
    • Family farms manage 84% of all farm acreage
    • Family farms represent 78% of all farm sales
    • Non-Family farms only make up 5% of U.S. corn farms

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thank a Farmer Day!!!

Thanksgiving is a time of year to give thanks for every blessing you have treasured thus far. The year is coming to a close and Christmas is around the corner. This is the season for thanks, family, and praising whomever or whatever you may worship be it God, Allah, Buddha, or any of the other religious figures.

However, many of you may give thanks for the food you are about to eat but have any of you given thanks and said a prayer for the ones that produced that wonderful food? The hog farmers, the cattle ranchers, the row farmers, and especially the turkey wranglers, have any of you thanked a farmer today or even this year?

While you sit around the table preparing to feast with family and friends, remember who grew those yams, who raised that bird, and who went out early this morning to tend to their livestock before any holiday festivities could begin. Remember the farmers and ranchers of this great nation and show your thanks be a prayer, a tweet, or a phone call just to say "Thanks."

I thank a farmer every day. In fact, I love farmers so much...I married one.

Thank God for your blessings.
Thank heaven for your family.
Thank a farmer for your food.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Kenmore Giveaway

BlogHer and Kenmore have teamed up this holiday season to give some lucky winner free appliances!

Image  from BlogHer site
One lucky winner will get to choose one of the following prizes:

1) Kenmore Elite Stainless Steel French-Door Bottom-Freezer Refrigerator
2) Kenmore Elite Top-Load Washer with Kenmore Elite Dryer
3) Kenmore Elite Stainless Steel Built-In Dishwasher
4) Kenmore Elite Stainless Steel Freestanding Range

We just bought a new dishwasher last year from our local Sears store but our other appliances leave much to be desired; so, here's why I'd love to win:

My poor washer and dryer aren't antiques like my stove but they do make funny noises and the washer has an odd odor. They work well enough but between the hog smell, the crappy (literally poop covered) coveralls, and all the other cloths this duo has to handle I could use a couple of real work horses like the Kenmore Elite team.

 Meet our trusty cook stove. We rescued this antique from my sister-in-laws basement back in 2005. It is a Frigidaire model RD-20-61 from 1961. It was used for canning by the little old lady my sis-in-law's house was purchased from; although it still functions properly, I believe it is time for an upgrade.

Our fridge isn't too bad but it is small and smelly and older than the washer and dryer. Our original fridge quit on us a couple years ago so I was given my sister's fridge from her college days. It had been residing on my parent's back porch for several years and used for beer, wine, and forgotten holiday leftovers...from the previous year. Needless to say, it took quite a bit of scrubbing and a whole lot of bleach to get this little beauty ready for it's new home. The Kenmore Elite refrigerator would look like a god next to this thing.
Even if, by some minute chance, I were to win I'm not sure which one I would choose. Any suggestions?
Be sure to read the reviews by the BlogHer ladies:

Jaden reviewed her new Kenmore Elite washer and dryer at SteamyKitchen
Chris sings her praises of the Kenmore Elite dishwasher at Notes From the Trenches
C Jane rejoices with her new Kenmore Elite Refrigerator at cjaneanswers
Holly voices her joy from owning a new Kenmore Elite Range with double ovens at NothingButBonfires

Click here for official contest rules and ways to enter.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Shaken Up the Holidays with Thanksgiving Oddities

Thanksgiving is all about traditions. Traditional foods, traditional gatherings, tradition, tradition, tradition. But what if you feel like shaking up the holidays. One way to keep with tradition while adding a little extra zing to the day is to add a non-traditional and/or slightly odd food item to the menu.

Image by Mitcham Peaches

Photo of fried pickles
by Food Network
At our house we usually always have a tray of sweet pickles, dill pickles, and green olives to munch on before, during, and after dinner. Instead of the usual tray why not shake it up a bit with something like fried pickles, pickled okra, and pickled peaches.

Instead of the same ol' pumpkin pie, why not have pumpkin pudding with vanilla wafers (I like to dip the wafers in the pudding). You could also change the appetizer platter to include sushi rolls for a little something different. 

For even more holiday oddities check out a post by mental_floss. This list includes a recipe involving White Castle, a turkey with anchovies, and a Ham and Banana Casserole. Yum?

Image from mental_floss
 How will you shake up the holidays? Do you have any odd traditions for Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Turkey for Few

Photo by Taste of Home

Not everyone is going to have 30 plus family members gathered in their home this Thanksgiving day awaiting a feast-o-plenty. For those lucky few, instead of fixing a huge bird with all the stuffing, casseroles a plenty, pies galore, and all the other do-dads that are synonymous with T-day, why not have a scaled down version of the feast-o-plenty. Here are a few ideas from Taste of Home:

1) Instead of a whole turkey, try just the breast. While your roasting up that chunk of juicy white meat, why not throw in some red potatoes and carrots. Here is a great dish from Taste of Home.

Photo by Taste of Home

2) Not a turkey fan? How about a Sweet N Moist Ham or a Savory Pork Loin Roast instead.

3) For a yummy side bake some butternut squash with raisins in a delish syrup sauce.

Photo by Taste of Home

4) Want a light, sweet side dish? Try fixing a simple fruit salad with apples and grapes, you could even through in some dried cranberries to turkey-day it up.

5) Can't decide which pie to fix? Try combining some of your favorite pies to get the best of both worlds. Here are a few pies to ponder:
 Four-Fruit Pie

Photo by Taste of Home

What sort of yummy things do you have on your holiday table?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Skinny Pig

Pork is a cheap, tasty, easy to fix, and...wait for it...this is it comes...almost there......Good for you waistline! According to a Purdue University study lead by Dr. Wayne Campbell and funded by the Pork Checkoff, eating a reduced calorie, high-protein diet consisting of at least 6 ounces of pork daily will help you lose weight while maintaining your lean tissue (that means you keep your long lean muscles while getting rid of the blubbery fat) and dieters reported feeling satisfied while on this diet.

Prize Pig

The Purdue study gathered 46 women and put them on two different diets for three months. One diet was a higher protein diet consisting of 30 percent calorie intake from protein and at least 6 ounces of pork. The other diet was a normal protein diet consisting of 18 percent calorie intake from protein. Both groups of dieters lowered their calorie intake by 750 daily calories. While both groups lost weight, the group which consumed the higher protein diet including pork also maintained their lean tissue and "experienced greater satiety or the feeling of fullness during dieting."

Our Lunch Today
A similar study conducted by Australia's Pork Cooperative Research Center reported that, "Initial results showed subjects on pork-based diets actually lost weight, in the form of body fat, during the study, but subjects on control diets gained weight." Read my June post There's Something About Pork for more on Australia's study.

You can also read more about the Purdue study in my Suite101 article Studies Reveal Lean Pork can Improve Health and Benefit Dieters. Also check out for more on this study and and many others, just click on the "Research" tab to find the latest pork research or do a search for specific research results.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Giving Thanks with Pork

While turkey is the traditional meat of the Thanksgiving holiday, pork is a wonderfully tasty and healthy alternative or a great addition to any meal. If you're looking for a lean piece of meat that will leave your taste buds tingling and your belly sated look no further than a big juicy pork loin. Loin is the leanest cut of meat a piggy has to offer and is just as healthy as a piece of skinless white meat chicken.

Thanksgiving Turkey

Mitzi Dulan, a registered dietitian and a specialist in nutritional counseling suggests using a low-fat marinade for flavor and juiciness like a wine-flavored vinegar, fat-free dressing, or juice instead of an oil-based marinade. She also suggests seasoning pork with herbs and spices instead of salt to boost flavor and cut back on sodium. After seasoning or marinating your pork loin, Mitzi says to grill, roast, or stir-fry it to maximize flavor while keeping fat to a minimum.

Mitzi's suggestions are great if you want a low-fat, high protein, delicious meal. But here's what I suggest: Get yourself some Worcestershire sauce, Italian dressing, several shakes of Sticky Pig Seasoning Rub, some minced onion, a little garlic powder, a splash of soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste shake it all up in a big plastic bag and drop in the biggest pork loin roast you can get your hands on and let it sit in the fridge for a couple days. Then, roast it in a roasting pan with a rack, fat side up at no hotter than 325 degrees for about an hour, maybe more maybe less, just check it after 30 minutes or so until it hits 150 degrees. Then, pull the roast out, wrap it in foil and let it set until it reaches 160 degrees. Voila, it may not be fat free but it sure is good. You can also just rub the hell out of it with your favorite seasoning rub and bake it just the same. Yum!

Give it a try this Thanksgiving and let me know how it turns out.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Manure Management

Photo of Anhydrous Ammonia Tanks

It's that time of year again. The crops are out, the ground is worked, and now the fertilizer must be spread in preparation for next years crop. This is where manure managment comes in.

The dominate fertilizer is anhydrous ammonia. This is a chemical fertilizer that injects nitrogen into the soil, which is needed to grow corn. However, there is another option, manure. Not all farmers have access to manure; furthermore, despite the thousands of CAFOs in America, we just don't make enough manure to go around. Our farm, and a few surrounding farms that contract us to fertilize their fields, are the fortunate ones because we have the best fertilizer you can get--Pig Poop!

Image of slurry wagon knifing
manure from a swine CAFO

Not only does manure significantly cut costs by $30 to $50 per acre, it also rebuilds topsoil. Since hog manure is a natural fertilizer made of organic materials it does more than just inject a specific nutrient, it puts back what crops take out creating soil that will, over years, need less fertilizer to maintain high yields.

Many anti-CAFO people believe that we are polluting the water and destroying the environment but we are actually doing the opposite. By reduces the use of petroleum-based chemical fertilizers and replacing them with the original fertilizer that our grandparents, great-grandparents, and generations before them used we are created a safer, healthier environment.

As long as farmers follow the rules and regulations set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and enforced by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) we are doing our part to remain good stewards of the land, which is what farming is all about. We take care of what takes care of us.

See manure in action on YouTube by watching the latest video on the BaconCam Channel,

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Busy November

Wow! This month is already turning out to be a busy one. I feel like I've been running full throttle and it doesn't look like it's going to let up anytime soon. Please forgive my absence, I started a new class and it has been sucking up a lot of my time with the reading assignments. I will get back into the swing of things but for now here is a list of things to look forward to this month:

1) Skinny Pig post coming soon and just in time for the holidays. If you think turkey is the only meat worthy of Thanksgiving dinner, think again. See how pork is good for your waistline.

2) Scoop on the Poop post will be airing this month along with a new YouTube video. You can get a preview of the post to come by reading Swine Waste Management on Suite101. I am really excited about this video and I hope you all enjoy it.

3) We Care video contest. See how our farm uses ethical principals everyday. For my fellow pork producers, the National Pork Board is having a video contest, deadline is November 30. Learn more here. I will be posting this video to YouTube and entering it in the contest for a chance to win a new HD camcorder. Wish me luck!

4) Thanksgiving menus! I'll have to rush on this order and I hope I make my goal of at least 4 different menus: A traditional menu, a health conscious menu featuring pork, a diabetic menu, and a scaled down menu for those that only have a few to feed.

Well, there you have it folks, my to-do list for November. My head is spinning just thinking about it but with a little luck and some late nights I'm sure I can knock it out. I also have to start Christmas shopping at some point but that's what Internet and UPS is for.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fall Day Fun

Today was a beautiful fall day in Missouri. The temperature was just right for fall, the breeze was light and cool, the sun shone brightly in the big blue sky, and the kids had a great time shooting their Halloween  pumpkin. After taking turns with their pellet rifle, they proceeded to "surgically" remove the pellets as they argued over who was the better marksman.

We worked on the proper stance while shooting. They're getting it, it just takes practice. We also discussed gun safety, which is a subject that I think every child should learn whether you have guns or not.

The pumpkin awaits his fate as the marksmen takes aim.

I love fall and the kids love shooting their pellet rifle. Of course, after a fun filled afternoon of pumpkin hunting we had to give Miss Mina some love too. Unfortunately, Aaron couldn't be here to watch the kids shoot and play but that's life on a farm. Fall is harvest and manure spreading time, so we just deal. 

 What fun stuff are you doing this fall?