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?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Agvocating is Essential

With the recent passing of Prop B it brings up an important issue, that of agvocating. Obviously, telling our stories as farmers, ranchers, and breeders has an incredible impact on the public. Amazingly, HSUS boasted a 91 percent approval rating for Prop B in Missouri this time last year. However, by sharing our stories and educating the public we managed to drop the approval rating to 51.6 percent. This proves our stories count, our voices matter. I will not stand by and let a bunch of urbanites that have never even gardened let alone actually farmed to tell me how to do my job and neither should you. Tell your stories, they matter and people will listen. We proved that with the Prop B results. Out of 114 counties plus one independent city only 13 counties voted for Prop B and guess where all but two of those counties are located: Kansas City and St. Louis.

We have taken for granted that we see, work, and live in an environment that 98 percent of America has nothing to do with. America knows little about farming and ranching and we need to fix that. Not everyone wants to know where there food comes from but everyone needs to know how important agriculture is to our country.

So, how do you start agvocating?

Blogging, social networking, video file sharing seems intimidating at first but it doesn't have to be. First, sign up and don't be afraid to explore the site. Facebook and Twitter are two great sites for connecting with other people that you know or that have similar interests. These are good for sharing tid bits of your thoughts and websites. However, they do limit how much you can type. Facebook limits you to 240 characters where Twitter is only 150. Do not fret, if you have a website you'd like to share and it is too long you can you is an automatic website shortener and it saves all your sites so you only have to enter them once. It is powered by Twitter so you can use the same sign in for both sites.

If you have a lot more to say, I would suggest a blog. Blogger (which is what you are on now) and Word Press are the two most widely used free blog websites. They each have a step-by-step tutorial which will walk you through signing up and getting started. The best blogs post everyday however you do not have to start that way. You can post as often or as little as your schedule allows. With a blog you can not only share your thoughts, you can also share photos, videos, link to news stories or other blogs, etc.

Photo from
If you have a digital video camera or are willing to buy one (flip cameras are easy to use and inexpensive) you can also share your videos on YouTube. Give a farm tour, show an everyday choir that most people don't get to see, let people see your animals, tractors, etc. Keep in mind that most people don't get to see what we do and even though it is mundane to you it is fascinating to others. Get out there and show off your farm!

The best agvocating comes from a combination of all the above. Use the blog and the videos to tell your story. Then, use the networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to promote your videos and blogs and to meet new people.

Don't get overwhelmed. If all the above seems like too much then just pick one and get comfortable with that and then add to it, one by one. Look at other peoples sites, lurk on networking sites to see what others are "tweeting" and "sharing" until you feel comfortable joining the conversation.

The point is to get out there and tell your story. Radical animal rights groups are trying to tell your story for you and make you look bad. It's time we told our own story, it's time we told the truth about farming.

Happy Agvocating!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Election Day Results--Prop B Decision

After staying up late watching the polls my finger nails are now worn down to nubs and my nerves are shot. I watched the polls as they slowly rolled in, anxiously watching what Prop B would do.

I check my computer and the "No" votes are winning by a landslide. It updates and the "Yes" votes start creeping closer. It updates again and again and again...we're neck and neck. Watching, waiting, hoping, praying I bite and chew my nails until the taste of blood forces me to remove my hand from my mouth. Impatiently, I watch as the little white counties turn green, one by one, signifying they have finished counting.

The vote runs neck and neck. A few more yes votes then a few more no votes, then yes, then no. It stays split down the middle while I sit, raking my hands through my hair because I'm out of nails to chew.

Then, as yet another update hits Prop B is at a dead tie, 50/50 split right down the middle with only one county left...the waiting is torture. My nerves have been on a roller coaster ride ever since the polls closed. Weeks of campaigning, blogging, emailing, calling, talking to friends and family explaining the issue, I just want the final word on it...whatever that may be. However, the updates have slowed to a near stop.

On a lighter note, the "Should Prop B pass?" poll ended with 55 votes. Not bad for my first blog poll. The results are promising. "Yes" got 9 votes, "No" received 12 votes, "Hell NO" dominated with 32 votes, and 2 voters were undecided. It is safe to say "No" won by a landslide, too bad that doesn't count for anything.

Another update just hit, St. Charles county is in...Prop B "yes" votes just jumped up by half a percent. It looks like we may lose this battle after all. Now, only 3 percent of the state remains. St. Louis County, St. Louis City, and Bollinger only have half their numbers in; Ray County has nothing. STL is all for Prop B, so we know there will be no help there, Bollinger is against Prop B. No one know were Ray County stands, the
vote is so close that one county could make the difference. Finally, with the votes being too close to call, I shut it down and go to bed.

Early this morning I wake and flip on the tube. Coincidentally, the first thing that I hear on the news is Prop B passes by 60,000 votes. I hang my head and kick myself for not campaigning earlier, for not educating enough people, for not agvocating sooner. There is a light at the end of this tunnel. We got Jay Houghton in office and I trust him to do everything possible to keep this bill from hurting Missouri.

There is a lesson to be learned in all this. Our stories, that of farmers and breeders, need to be told. We have always trusted people to use common sense. Too many of us thought people would never believe the lies spread about farmers and breeders but we were wrong. Radical groups have been out there besmirching our industry and we trusted the people to see through the lies; however, we forgot it is our duty to educate those detached from this line of work. Only 2 percent of Americans farm, we took our knowledge for granted.

Farmers, breeders tell your stories. People have lost touch with their roots and it is our duty to remind them. Let the people know that the cruelty that happens and the abuse plastered on YouTube is not the norm. Let the people know that we care about our animals and the environment. Let the people know what you do for a living. If you think your story is not worth telling...think again. We all have a story worth telling; so get out there and tell it, people will listen.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Recap Prop B

My fellow Missourians, lend me your eyes...

Tomorrow is November 2 and you all know what that means, Election Day! Polls will open and it is your patriotic duty to get out there and vote. Now, before you hit the polls, check out the "Sample Ballot" tab at the upper left corner of this blog. This will redirect you to the Vote Missouri website where you can view a sample ballot for your district. This will also give you a chance to do some last minute research.

So, lets recap on one of the big issues on the ballot, Prop B.

1) Local veterinarian, Dr. Hudson, gave 10 reasons to vote NO on Prop B. He also suggested that everyone check out the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association's website. The MVMA is only one of many groups against Prop B.

2) Prop B redefines "pet" to "any domesticated animal normally maintained in or near the household of the owner thereof." The language of the proposition is also dangerously vague. When you consider the redefined term, the vague language, and HSUS's track record for going after animal agriculture, Prop B is Bad for Missouri.

3) We learned more on "The Puppy Mill Bill" when we took a look at some scary HSUS statistics. For example, they give less than 1% of the donations to shelters and $31 million of the donations go toward salaries. Is this the type of organization you want in Missouri?

Don't be fooled by the HSUS lies. Learn the truth about Prop B by researching it. Look at the Missouri Farm Bureau's website,, and to find out more. When local veterinarians and local animal groups are against this bill, something must be wrong with it. These are people that have devoted their lives to animals. Why would they oppose it if it truly helped animals?

No one wants to see animals abused. As breeders, farmers, and pet owners we all want to see Missouri animals safe, healthy, and loved; however, HSUS is using this against us. They call it the "Puppy Cruelty Prevention Act" because who would vote against that. That is the first deception. Look at the facts, look at the track record. HSUS finds the low hanging fruit and destroys it then, like a disease, leeches into the rest of the tree. In California it was the egg industry, in Florida it was the pork industry, now, in Missouri it is the dog industry. They come in claiming to help but their real goal is to abolish domestic animal ownership and create a meat free society.

This is not a socialistic society but if we keep voting for more government it will quickly turn that way. Vote NO on Prop B to keep government and the HSUS out of our daily lives. Don't be fooled by their lies. Prop B is unconstitutional and is only the first stepping-stone for HSUS to take away our animals and our agriculture. Stop them before they can get their claws into Missouri.

Vote NO on Prop B Tomorrow!