Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

I wish everyone a joyful and blessed Christmas this holiday season. Remember to be thankful for what you have and hug your loved ones tight every chance you get. Enjoy Christmas and have a safe and happy New Year.


Team Bacon Blogger

Monday, November 5, 2012



November 6th is upon us and it is our civic duty to GET OUT AND VOTE!!! I'm not going to go on and on about which way you should or shouldn't vote (I'm sure you've heard enough of that from the campaign ads). We all have an opinion and lets just leave it at that; however, I am going to tell you that if you don't vote then you don't get to complain, whine, sneer, or other wise get snippy about anything that involves the government. Either vote or have your crabby-pants card revoked...that's my rule. 

Polls open at 6am so rise and shine people and lets VOTE!!!!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Farmer Penpal Letters

We are very excited to receive our first penpal letters!!! We volunteered to be a farmer penpal with a classroom and here are the first of the letters. I can't wait to share our farm with these inquisitive students and answer their questions.

This is going to be so much fun!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Foodista Conference a Blast

We survived IFBC in Portland!

Have I mentioned I hate commercial flying??? Well, I'm saying it now.


If you must fly then may I suggest Southwest. They have more comfortable seats and they give you free cheeznips and peanuts. Just say NO to United! I'm just saying...

Despite a rough beginning, Aaron and I made it to Portland and had a great time talking pigs, farming, and food with a bunch of great bloggers and foodies. We ate a yummy breakfast thanks to the PorkCheckoff. They served bacon...who'd a thunk it!? Good peppered bacon, not that cheap thin crap. It was very tasty.

I was incredibly impressed by how open everyone was and their great questions. I was prepared for some confrontational Q&A but everyone was genuinely curious and cared. It was really refreshing to speak to such a great crowd and I thank each and every one of them for sticking around to listen to our stories. It was also exciting to answer questions from the crowd and to hear what they had to say about farming.

The National Pork Board also gave away an all expenses paid trip to a pig farm. Very Cool!!! Congrats to @FoodWhiz for winning the trip. I can't wait to hear how it goes.

After a L-O-N-G flight home Aaron and I are both glad to be back home and Aaron is especially happy to get back to the business of caring for his pigs.

Keep the convo going! Be sure to check out:

The Bacon Blogger's FB page
3 Kids and Lots of Pigs
National Pork Board

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Still Preparing for Portland and IFBC 2012

The clock is ticking...

Who knew preparing a speech/presentation, practicing my answers to panel questions, stressing over finals week (yes, I'm still in school...arrrg), going to work all day every stinking day after day after day...I'm digressing...and being a mom (not to mention a farmer's wife) could be so exhausting. Sometimes I wonder if I take on too much.

Might be a tiny, tiny bit stressed...
Nah! I can handle it. I may have a mental breakdown every now and again and start randomly screaming out profanities but my family is use to it by now. Right? I can do this. Right? Right?!

Okay, I'll admit it, I'm a tiny bit stressed but despite my temporary insanity I am super excited about IFBC 2012 in Portland. Not only do I get to tell my story but I also get to have what I am sure will be a fantastic breakfast sponsored by the National Pork Board.

Do you think they'll serve bacon?

I am amazed and proud that farmers and farming organizations are finally breaking their silence to tell their stories straight from the hog's mouth. This is a unique opportunity to speak with a group of people that under any other circumstances wouldn't know I even exist nor I them. Along with Heather from 3 Kids and Lots of Pigs, we will get a chance to tell our stories and answer questions and I am sure they will have plenty. It's nerve racking but exciting.

These conversations are so vital to the future of farming. Agriculture touches each and every one of our lives no matter your geographical location or your food beliefs. We don't all have to agree--heavens to Betsy, no--but we do need to keep an open mind and an open heart to move the conversation forward.

Missouri Farm--Corn Field
Farming has come such a long way but it still has a very long way to go. Improvements keep coming but we need to keep everyone involved to make sure we never stop striving to make farming better and better.

I am looking forward to the future of farming.

How about you?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Michelle Obama + USDA = Hungry Kids

This is the face of a little boy who is not impressed and neither am I.

 My kids need some serious food to keep up with their seriously active lives.
I have bumped Aaron’s Wordless Wednesdays because I cannot be silent on this day. I cannot sit by idly while children across the country have rumbling tummies. I’m not talking about under privileged children nor am I talking about the starving Pygmies in New Guiney—I am talking about our children and the new school lunch program.
My active kids on their tire swing.
The USDA has made some major changes to the school lunch program and so far, a week into school, I have hungry children. The new school lunch program implements larger portions of fruits, vegetable, and whole grains. I have no problem with that, I love fruits and veggies. HOWEVER, it also significantly reduces the amount of protein to practically nothing not to mention the calorie reduction. My kids are very active. They enjoy time outside, play with their friends outside, my daughter enjoys track while my son just likes to run and climb on anything and everything. My children also have a very high metabolism. By offering a “one-size fits all” style of lunch that reduces their proteins, carbs, calories, etc. they are lacking the nutrients their growing little bodies need.
I am not opposed to healthier eating but dictating what they eat right down to the amount of ranch dressing they can have (my daughter refuses to except that the gunk in her cup was ranch dressing, she said it tasted more like watery mayo) is not only ridiculous but it is doing more harm than good. Instead of starving the kids in an effort to control childhood obesity why not encourage more activity in conjunction with a healthy, FILLING diet. My daughter eats like she will never see another meal again yet remains a beanpole while my son eats like a bird and swears he is so full he will pop. However, my two very different children are offered the same amount of food at school. This does not play out well.
For example, I had high hopes for the new school lunch program because it promised to be healthier and the menu really looked good....on paper. We gave it a try. I hoped for the best and here's what I get: 
Today I asked my son, "How was lunch?" 
He said, "I guess it was ok."
Me: "Did it fill you up?" 
Him: "I guess so."
Me: "Are you hungry now?"
Him: "I feel pretty snackish."
Me: "Ok. Get a snack and let me talk to your sister."
So, I asked Kylee, "How was lunch?"
Kylee: "Ok."
Me: "Did it fill you up?"
Kylee: "NO! Two hours before school was out it felt like my stomach was digesting itself. I am soooooo hungry. Can I please take my lunch tomorrow?"
Both my children understand that a healthy diet is a balanced diet and everything is best in moderation. I also regulate how much my kids are on their DS's, Wii, and their TV time. They play outside, they stay active, and they need more food than USDA and our first lady is offering.
The new food regulations not only go so far as to regulate the amount of condiments a child can use but it also leaves schools with their hands tied. If a school chooses not to utilize this new program they will have their funding cut and then everyone goes without. Schools have been feeding us for generations and it feels like a smack in the face to all those people that have devoted their lives to planning, preparing, and serving school lunches. Schools have always had the choice of food programs and I believe they should be able to use their food dollars in a way they see fit. Every district is different, every kid is different so a one-size fits all just won't work. The schools know their kids, so let them do their job.
Get these kids some real food!!!
I understand the need for healthier foods and I am all for it but I do not like my children coming home hungry and their school left with no alternatives. The worst part of all this is how this will affect the low income families. Our family is fortunate enough to afford to brown bag it but what about the families that can’t? In our area there are several families that get reduced price or free lunches. We are in one of the poorest districts. In some cases the school is where these kids get their best meal so how does “one-size fit all” fit into their lives? Kids that are hungry can’t focus and kids that can't focus will do poorly in school.
I realize we have an issue with obesity in this country but over regulating school lunches is NOT the solution to this problem. We do NOT need more regulation, we need more accountability and less "quick fixes." Our school lunches did not cause obesity and individuals must be responsible for their own actions--food choices and level of activities.
What are your thoughts on this issue?
If you disagree with what our first lady and USDA are doing then I urge you to write your Congressman and Senators. I also incourage you to contact the following people about this issue:
Undersecretary of Food & Nutrition Services Kevin Concannon 1400 Independence Ave, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20250
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack 1400 Independence Ave, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20250

Other sites with some great info and some great stories:

Chris Chinn: Does Your Child Fit the "One Size Fits All" Lunch Program?

Pinkie Post: 3 School Lunch Solutions with Linky

Morning Joy Farm: School Lunch Soapbox

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sustainable Farming...We do that!

I got this email with a website link on it and a simple message:

Thought you might find this interesting.
 Well, I was interested...very interested. So interested, in fact, that I think it needs to be shared with anyone and everyone that cares about both pig farming and a healthy environment. The PorkCheckoff funded some research to evaluate whether or not pig farming has improved over the years and to see what areas needed further improvment.
The research shows that pork production is more sustainable now than ever before. The first sentence of this article was fantastic and it sums up what we've been trying to tell everyone from the beginning:
"A new study finds that while pig farms of the 1950s may be remembered as idyllic, they were not as sustainable as those of today."
The study found that today's hog farms have decreased their carbon footprint by 35 percent since 1959. Additionally, we (hog farmers) use 41 percent less water and 78 percent less land per pound of pork produced. That is a huge accomplishment in farming! We are able to produce more while using less and protecting our envirnment.
We are still looking for ways to improve farming across the board but I think it is also important to celebrate our current accomplishments. This study shows just one of those accomplishments.
What do you think? 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Family Farm vs. Factory Farm

Image from
Image of hog barn from our farm

I’m no writer but here’s my thoughts on this whole family farming vs. factory farming thing. People have this idea that the “traditional” family farm is ma and pa with 50 pigs out back and a big red barn because that’s the way farming use to be so that’s the way it is today. But the thing that we need to tell people who have that idea that a big farm can’t be a family farm is that the family farm is still the same it has just changed its looks. We had that little ma and pa type farm but it couldn’t support one household let alone four like it does today. By going bigger and using these hog barns we are able to grow the family business and now the whole family works on the farm. We are even taking better care of those pigs and they spend their days a whole lot more comfortable than I do especially in this Missouri heat. The family farm is still the family farm no matter what size it is but it just looks different and that is not a bad thing. We’ve made lots of improvements and we continue to look for better ways to farm. But this is what we do and how we do it and we are proud to be farmers.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Preparting for Portland & IFBC 2012

As an active agvocate, I am always happy to share my story. So, you can imagine my excitement when Teresa from the National Pork Board contacted me about a unique opportunity. The National Pork Board is sponsoring a breakfast at this year’s International Food Bloggers Conference, which will give food bloggers a chance to talk directly to hog farmers and learn more about modern pork production. Well, since we are simply Hog Wild about farming I was all too happy to say YES to this great opportunity to meet new people and spread the word of AG. The IFBC 2012 is being held in Portland, OR this year so that makes it even more exciting for two reasons: 1) I have never been to Oregon; 2) This is a rare chance to connect with people (particularly foodies) that I normally would never encounter. I believe between the Pork Board’s efforts and that of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance we are definitely on the right track to an open dialogue between farmers and consumers. There is a communication gap between the people that raise food and the people who only see the end result. This gap must be closed in order to not only improve farming but improve the way people think about farming. Never have people felt so removed from the farm and this is why, I think, there is such uproar over farming practices. While farming has improved over the decades we are still learning and it still has a long way to go; however, farming will never reach its full potential if we do not connect with the people that depend on us. Farmers know the land, they know their animals, but they don’t know everything and it is easy to become jaded and lose sight of the bigger picture. This is why we need to open the lines of communication on both sides of the gap. We may not agree on everything put if we at least have an open conversation about it we stand to learn more than we ever thought possible. Each side has legitimate concerns and each side thinks they know better but how can we improve if we never look at the other side? There is more than one way to farm and that is what makes farming fabulous—it’s diversity.

The main topic of this breakfast panel is the We Care Initiative and how we use it on our farm. This may sound like a slogan to some but for pork producers it actually means something. Here is a video that gives a sample of what the We Care program means:

I am looking forward to speaking with all the chefs, food bloggers, agents and editors, cookbook writers, and otherwise food curious folks in Portland. I am hoping for an enlightening and enjoyable conversation about food, farming, and the yumminess of pork. Hope to see you in Portland.

Are you going to this year’s IFBC? I’d love to hear from you!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Factory Farms: An Issue of Scale

Factory farm or family farm?
As a concerned mother, wife, and fellow consumer I can understand how the idea of a “factory farm” can scare, anger, or even confuse the general public. However, as a farmer’s wife and pork producer I must ask what is a “factory farm” anyway?

I have found through reading blog posts, tweets, and FB comments that the biggest defining factor for “factory farms” is an issue of scale. The bigger the farm the more likely it will be categorized as a “factor farm.” Technology also plays a role in people’s perception. The more we utilize technology the more we are all lumped into a corporate farming pile.

But does a larger scale of farming make you a factory/corporate farmer or a successful/sustainable farmer?

We raise 26,000 pigs over the course of a year plus several hundred acres of corn and soybeans. We utilize modern farming techniques to make us more efficient, safe, and environmentally friendly. Because we are larger in scale and have modern techniques does that make us factory farmers or successful farmers?

Fertilizer--knifing hog manure
We also participate in contract farming. We contract pig space and have manure spreading agreements with local farmers. This means that we “rent” pig space in our barn and—as a family—raise company owned pigs in our family owned and operated barns. The manure spreading agreements help fellow farmers reduce fertilizer costs while still putting needed nutrients into the ground in the form of a natural fertilizer. By farming in this way our farm has grown large enough to support four separate households—all of which are family members. So, are we factory farmers or family farmers?

I suppose the biggest issue here isn’t scale, technology, or even technique; instead it seems to be a matter of perception. The original 50 acre farm with a few dirt hogs wasn’t enough to maintain a growing family and by utilizing modern farming practices we were able to grow in size and support four separate family households.

To me this says successful farming because it is done responsibly; however, many don’t agree with that. It would seem there is a double standard in farming. If any other business grows in size over the course of years and is able to employ more people it is seen as a successful business and the business owner is considered to be living the “American dream.” However, if we place a farmer in this same scenario the farmer is considered a “corporate sell-out” or “factory farmer” instead of being seen as successful. Why is this? Why can’t farms be large in scale but still maintain family values and ownership?

So I ask again: What is a “factory farm” anyway?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Post-Fair Finally

The ham sale was a success. Miss Kylee made out like a bandit (a very grateful bandit). A big THANK YOU goes out to Bob Cope with Mid-MO Truck and Trailer.


Curing of the HAM

The 4-H county fair is here again and this year is no different from last year...we country cured a ham. It is amazing to think that our grandparents had no choice but to cure hams (that is if they didn't want them to spoil) but we now only do it by choice. We truly have come a long way but despite all that I believe that curing hams is still a valuable skill and a great reminder of how good we have it.
Kylee worked hard on her hams.

She trimmed them with loving care.

And smoothed down fat with a smile.

Adding the cure it is always her favorite part. She needed a little help from our friends over at 4 Quarters Perry Locker but once she saw Kristen do it she remembered how to stuff a hock.

And stuff she did.

She enjoys stuffing the hock a little too much but that's just my opinion.

After a good trim, a lot of cure, and some pretty wrapping paper the ham is ready for least 5 months of hanging.

It is amazing how this bloody, fatty, hunk of meat turns into...

This blue ribbon deliciously smokey country cured ham.

It smells so good she can hardly contain herself...goofy girl!

Tonight is the big sale. Wish Miss Kylee luck. Hopefully her ham sells well.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Pig Care Priority

Pork producers are always looking for ways to better their farming practices and pig care is on the top of their list.

Several producers gathered for a pig care meeting. This meeting was not only a refresher course but it also introduced the producers to some new ideas to improve their practices.

The meeting focused on the importance of individual pig care despite the large numbers being raised in hog barns. Some creative methods were suggested to help produces with this task.  

No pork producer meeting would be complete complete without a pulled pork meal. Yum!

The whole Windmann crew was there, too.

Farmers are constantly changing and improving their techniques and pork producers are no different. We strive to take better care of our animals because we care about the product that we produce and the animals that we raise.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Piggy Predicament

While some may refer to our swine operation as a factory farm we do not have factory hours. While most people either enjoy a half day of work or no work at all on Saturdays, it's just another day to a farmer. What began as a day of laying irrigation pipe and doing pig chores became a frantic relay race with the clock ticking.

First, three pieces of irrigation pipe had been damaged. Of course, the guys don't find this out until they do a test run and discover some leaks. So, they have to take practically the whole thing apart, fetch new pipes, and put the whole thing back together again. This isn't a garden hose either, folks. We are talking about six-inch aluminum piping that literally runs over the hill and through the buck-brush all the way across the field. It's some serious chizz to take this thing apart and put it back together. So, what started as a be-done-by-two job ended up lasting until after four o'clock.

Here's where I come in:

There I was, minding my own business, preparing supper. Frozen burger paddies in one hand and a bag of charcoal in the other when my husband, Aaron, bursts through the door. He was in such a hurry that I don't even thing he put the truck in park before he leaped out. It was a tuck and roll situation.

What're you doing? What do you have going on?
It's after five, Aaron. I'm getting ready to fix supper.
What? Supper? No, we don't have time for that. Throw some snacks at the kids and lets go.
I gotta pig emergency and I need help. Let's go. Have they ate?
The patties are still frozen in my hand. So, no. No one has ate.
Right. Throw some snacks at the kids and lets go.
I got that part. Calm down.

You can imagine how well the conversation went after that. So, instead of munching down some tasty grill burgars with asperagus and potatoes, the children had cold-cut sandwiches and I went without. The charcoal returned to the basement, feeling abandoned, and the frozen patties in my hand returned to their home in the freezer, feeling cold. Away we flew to the land beyond with shining white tin and lush flowing fields green (and brown, we really need some rain). Into the pigs we go.

At this point I still have no idea what the emergency is or even what I am supposed to be doing. I just slip into my fancy rubber boots and slide on my fashionable blue coveralls and hope for the best. Turns out that a feed auger in the barn needed to be repaired. So our job was to first manuver pigs around to get as many as we could out of the pin that the feed motor was in. Armed with pretty plastic sort boards we begin the hearding process. I have a huge bruise on my knee as a result of a 200 pound pig that decided he did not want to go the same direction as everyone else. Oh, well. No worse for wear. The second job requires Aaron to teader on a plastic bucket while he fights with some bolts and a heavy motor. My job during this is to make sure the remaining pigs in the pin do not chew on Aaron or his tools. Have I mentioned we are on slatted floors? That means anything you happen to drop is forever Aaron's pliers and his previous pliers and several bolts. I think there might be a cell phone down there too. Well, after everthing is replaced (luckily his brother showed up just in time to help hold the motor and what-nots) the pigs had feed again and Aaron could finally calm down.

All-in-all it was a good time...well, sort of but not really. The point is the pigs come first and we gave up our supper time to ensure the pigs got their supper time.

Farmers care about their livestock and that's the truth!

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Cent of Swine

This is a post that I feel needs revisiting because it is an important factor in the farming industry. Manure management is also an environmental issue and John Q Public needs to know more about the renewable resource (and money saving resource) that we are producing. Enjoy...

A lot of folks whine, cry, and complain about the smell of a hog house but let me tell you...that, my friends, is money you are smelling. Don't get me wrong, we aren't a bunch of suits snapping our greedy claws at every dollar we see; we are family farmers. That means family owned and operated but farming is first and foremost a matter what kind of farming you do. Furthermore, which is better, natural or chemical? Well, when it comes to fertilizer, I'll take natural over chemical any day of the week.

I ran across an interesting blog post The smell of money from a blog I follow, Brumm Speaks Out. In his post, Mike explains the financial benefits of utilizing swine waste as a natural fertilizer. He also describes the nutrients found in hog waste. Of course, here at Bacon Blogger HQ we have always appreciated our manure but here is a mathematical breakdown excerpted from Mike Brumm's post:

The average composition of the manure in pounds per 1000 gal of manure was 60 pounds of nitrogen, 30 pounds of phosphate (P2O5), 35 pounds of potash (K2O), 7 pounds of sulfur and 1 pound of zinc.

At the same time, I’ve seen prices quoted for commercial fertilizer in the range of $800/ton for anhydrous ammonia (82% N), $600/ton for phosphate and $800/ton for potash. Applying these values to the above manure analysis, the manure is worth $42.80/1000 gallons as it is removed from the pit.

For a wean to finish barn, you get about 340 gallons of manure per pig space per year or a net value at time of land application of $9.25 per pig space. For a 1250 head facility, this is $11,560.

When applied at 180 pounds of nitrogen per acre (3,000 gallons per acre), this becomes 8.2 pig spaces per acre from a grow-finish barn with a total land need of 150 acres.

Now, to put this into perspective, I'll give you the scoop on pig poop. To use a chemical fertilizer it will cost a farmer around $200 to $300 per acre; whereas for manure, we only pay what it cost to run the machinery--which doesn't even come close to $300 per acre. We also apply manure for other farmers and charge a fraction of what it cost to use chemical fertilizers. Furthermore, according to recent Canadian research manure actually helps rebuild topsoil. I think we can safely say that manure isn't waste, it is one of the most valuable byproducts from pigs. And, with proper waste management it can be an invaluable renewable resource for farmers.

Here is another scoop on pig poop:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mexico Ledger Pet Contest

So, I entered my Miss Mina in the Mexico Ledger pet contest. I don't generally enter in such contests but I thought what the heck. Mina seemed excited about it and I think she is pretty special so in she went.

She's come such a long way and grown so much. Just seeing what a lovely young lady she has developed into brings a tear to my eye.
If you think Miss Mina is as special as I do you can vote for her in the Mexico Ledger Pet Contest. I know I'll be voting everyday for my pretty girl.

Who's a good girl...Who's a good girl...yes you are...want a treat...some bacon...yes you do...want you bacon treat...

Don't tell me you don't talk like an idiot to your dog, too. Everyone does it and I'm not ashamed.