Saturday, February 23, 2013

Tragedy Strikes, Farmers Come Together

Bold headline, I know, but when tragedy strikes farmers, neighbors, and other rural community members really do come together--at least they did this weekend.

I had a different post lined up for this weekend. I wanted to introduce my Show-Me Ag Matters project but that can wait. Instead, I wanted to tell a little story. A story about a man, a barn, some neighbors, and a whole lot of pigs.

As many of you are aware, we had a snow storm. Actually, most of the Midwest had a snow storm. This storm dropped a good bit of snow and in our area we got anywhere from 9 inches to more than a foot of snow with drifts 3 to 5 feet deep. This is where the tragedy began.

Snow is heavy, wet snow is heavier and I think you know where I'm going with this. Yes, that's the place this is heading--a roof collapsed.

One of our neighbor's roof collapsed on his pig barn. Unfortunately, it was full of pigs.
No, these are not the actual images of our neighbor's barn but this is very similar to what the damage looks like.

Fret not, there is good news in this story and a happy ending.

Fortunately, because this farmer was quick to act, friends, family, neighbors, and fellow farmers were able to rapidly come together. They were also able to save nearly every pig in the barn. As soon as the tragedy happened phones were ringing, trucks were moving, and people were coming together to save those pigs. Grown men were on hands and knees crawling under the collapsed roof trying desperately to get to the trapped pigs and run out as many as they possibly could.

It was a lucky thing that we recently emptied one of our sites and had room to fit all of our neighbor's pigs. However, there was a downside. This particular site has three barns sitting on it, two 1200-head barns and one 2400-head barn, our 2400-head barn was down for repairs. We needed to replace all the gate posts before pigs could come in. But a group of guys came over and got every single one of those gate posts (there were several!) replaced while another group took care of unloading the pigs in the smaller barns. It was a great show of organization and hustle.

Luck aside, it could not have been done without the help of extraordinary people willing to drop everything and come to aide a farmer and a friend in need. Because these wonderful people came together so quickly they were able to save nearly every pig in the entire barn. The pigs were hungry and thirsty when they came to our barns (due to the feed and water lines busting from the collapse) but otherwise happy and healthy--running, jumping, and inspecting the new facility.

I want to thank those farmers, friends, and neighbors for caring and dropping everything to help.

I want to thank our neighbor for acting so quickly and proving that farmers--no matter the size of their operation--care about their animals.

I want to thank all parties involved for doing the right thing even when they think no one is looking, even when they think no one will ever know of the good deed done. Because guess what guys, I just told on you. But I think in this instance, it's okay to tattle.

Great job getting those pigs out, guys. Now, everyone reading his, go thank a farmer!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Winter Farming

Even in the winter months with the ground frozen and nothing growing farmers are still farming. There is a surprising consensuses that farmers get the winter months off but oh the contrary is true. No, we aren't in the fields but there is much, much more to farming than just cruising in the tractors. There is plenty to do on the farm to keep farmers and ranchers busy year round and then some.

Today in Missouri (and the entire mid-west) we are under a winter weather advisory. In fact, the radio just announced a state of emergency because the sky is layering the ground with an inch of snow every hour and the wind she is a blowing causing whiteout conditions.
Luckily, Aaron crammed the trucks in the shed and got the tractor and blade ready last night in preparation for today. There is a very good reason why farmers are obsessed with the weather and I am grateful for it, especially today.

But what about the livestock? Sure, we have tractors for pushing snow complete with cabs, heat, and air-ride seats but how are our pigs faring in this frosty weather?

Good news! Not only do we have heated cab tractors but we also have heated barns specially made for the pigs. You won't find frosty snouts and frozen hooves on our farm; instead, you'll find warm pigs with plenty of food and water. We didn't even have to break the ice for them to drink!

These huge furnaces are throughout the barn and work just like a furnace in a house. When the temperature drops the furnace kicks on until the barn reaches the toasty temperature we designate in the computer. We also have brooder heaters for the little pigs but once they are big enough to generate their own heat we take these brooders down. We also have a generator, which Aaron checked on this morning, in case the power goes out.

Despite whiteout conditions, 40-mile-per-hour winds, and freezing temperatures farmers and ranchers are out checking on their herds--both indoor and outdoor. No matter where the herd is raised--climate controlled barns, pastures, or hoop houses--farmers still have to brave the weather to get to their animals every single day. 

 What are you doing on this snowy day?

Off the subject: Is it normal to have thunder and lightening during a snow storm or am I the only one that finds that odd?

Monday, February 18, 2013

President's Day Meaty Monday

In honor of President's Day I decided to take a look at what our former presidents ate, particularly, what meats they favored. I stumbled upon The Food Timeline, where our journey begins.

So, what meat did our first president George Washington enjoy? What about Honest Abe? Did JFK have a taste for a particular morsel of meaty goodness? How about Ronald Reagan?

Here's the run down of just a few:
  • George Washington had simple tastes when it came to food. He liked his meals hardy but plain. However, Washington seemed to favor fish above all other meats.
  • Abraham Lincoln had the appetite of a farm boy, especially, when it came to bacon. He'd fit right in around here!
  • James Garfield reportedly loved milk and squirrel soup but hated oatmeal. Well, each to their own.
  • FDR, while he served hot dogs to the Queen of England, loved rabbit for his Sunday supper but he also enjoyed creamed chipped beef, bacon, sausage, and other traditionally American dishes.
  • JFK was more upscale and swanky then many of his predecessors. He enjoyed a French cuisine often ordering a bowl of vichyssoise and chicken in champagne sauce. No squirrel for the Kennedy's. 
  • The Reagan's were definitely bread eaters but Ronald Reagan loved roast beef.
Hungry for a second helping?

Here's a favorite food list from The Favorite Foods of Presidents Past:
  • Barack Obama: Fran’s Smoked Salt Caramels (buttery caramels coated in milk chocolate and sprinkled with smoked sea salt).
  • George W. Bush: Homemade ‘cheeseburger pizzas’ composed of a cheeseburger on top of a margherita pizza.
  • Bill Clinton: JalapeƱo cheeseburgers with lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, pickles, and onions.
  • George Bush: Pork rinds.
  • Ronald Reagan: Jelly beans.
  • Richard Nixon: Cottage cheese and ketchup.
  • Lyndon B. Johnson: Like Warren Buffet, he had a daily hamburger fix.
  • John F. Kennedy: Boston clam chowder and ice cream with hot fudge.
  • Dwight Eisenhower: Beef stew.
  • Harry S. Truman: His mama’s fried chicken and custard pie; his wife’s chocolate cake, as well as chicken and dumplings.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt: Grilled cheese sandwich, scrambled eggs, fish chowder, hot dogs, and fruitcake.
  • Warren G. Harding: Men’s-only dinners featuring saurkraut and knockwurst.
  • Theodore Roosevelt: Fried chicken smothered in white gravy.
  • Abraham Lincoln: His mother’s gingerbread.
  • Andrew Jackson: Cheddar cheese. A 1,400-pound wheel of it.
  • Thomas Jefferson: Expensive red wine.
  • John Adams: New England cheese, bacon, white potatoes, and cider.
  • Georgia Washington: Nuts, so much so that he had dental issues from cracking them with his teeth so much.
It is interesting to see that each president's tastes are as different as our own. Some people swear by pork or poultry, others are all beef all the time. Yet others prefer to just veg out with no meat in sight. The amazing thing is that we each have that choice to make. Just as every president has certain preferences, ideas, and agendas so too does every person.

As a society we need to be understanding of our differences and respectful of individual choices.

That's enough insight for one day. Enjoy President's Day, everybody!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pork Proud 31 Bags

Who could have imagined that 31 Bags would join the Pork Proud bandwagon? Check out my new porktastic gear!

My new camera/gear bag complete with the cutest little pig coin purse I've ever seen.

 Too cute...
Now, if only I could afford a new camera and laptop I'd be set. Oh well. Baby steps, baby steps.

So, whataya think?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

101 in 1001...Oh, boy!

While this was first created by the Day Zero Project I first saw this challenge on a lovely blog that I follow (and think you should follow it too) called CrystalCattle. A quick thank you to her for the inspiration.

So, what is this Day Zero Project? Here is the rundown:

The Challenge:
Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The Criteria:
Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on your part).

We are working up a list and could use some help! Suggestions would be helpful! Please suggest something, anything.

This is what we've come up with so far:

Team Bacon Blogger Goals:
  1. Finish School with my BA in Eng/Lit
  2. Finish creating my agriculture education newsletters
  3. Make my newsletters into PDF's available on the blog
  4. Post on the blog 6 days a week (without fail) for 3 months
  5. Write/Rewrite 9 Show-Me Ag Matters Easy Readers
  6. Write 6 There's a Farm in my Food books
  7. Publish/Self-publish Show-Me Ag Matters Easy Readers
  8. Speak to at least 5 schools about agriculture
  9. Become part of Operation Main Street
  10. Participate in 10 AgChats (actually tweet)
  11. Volunteer for AgChat
  12. Get more involved with USFRA
  13. Create Swine Swag
  14. Offer Swine Swag for sale on blog and donate portion to at least 3 different Ag Foundations
  15. Make 5 more YouTube videos for BaconCam
  16. Update web appearance 
  17. Attend a blogger conference 
  18. Meet one online peep in person
  19. Blog a series on building hog barns
  20. Tour a packing plant and blog about it
  21. Tour a rendering plant (with nose plugs) and blog about it
  22. Blog a series on our new drag line equipment
  23. Triple the likes on The Bacon Blogger's Facebook page
  24. Start a "New Appliance" savings fund
  25. Go to church once a month for 6 months
  26. Become a room mom
  27. Buy a new camera (Nikon D3200)
  28. Buy a new computer (Lenovo Yoga)
  29. Send 10 Thank You cards for random acts of kindness and appreciation
  30. Workout 3 times a week for 3 months solid
  31. Get a manicure (I've never had one)
  32. Fly to New Hampshire for the commencement ceremony
  33. Actually post pics to my Flickr account (if I can remember how to sign into it)
  34. Update linked in at least twice a month
  35. Send cards to friends and family on every holiday (that I choose to recognize) for 1 year
  36. Spend 2 hours a week during winter months just throwing the ball for Miss Mina
  37. Pin 50 thinks to Pinterest (they have to be things I actually like, random pinning does not count)
  38. Read 4 fun books (fiction only, no association with school or work)
  39. Build a garden shelter
  40. Attempt a winter garden 
  41. Try 10 new recipes 
  42. Buy a myself a gun (Taurus Slim 9)
  43. Get my conceal and carry
  44. Take my mom-in-law on an Amtrak train
  45. Focus on picture portfolio at least 3 times during every season
  46. Chaperone every one of Kylee's high school dances
  47. Buy a NICE pair of boots
  48. Finish the paint and trim work upstairs
  49. Get a 4-wheeler for sprayer use
  50. Win the Missouri Lottery (I told him it was a long shot but he doesn't care)
  51. Buy a loader for the tractor
  52. Replace back deck
  53. Build a shop
  54. Buy a NICE pair of boots (Aaron disagrees but he needs a new pair)
  55. Start anniversary tattoos again
  56. Finish landscaping the yard
  57. Finish disk 1 of Rosetta Stone
  58. Start disk 2 of Rosetta Stone 
  59. Buy an RV 
  60. Make another list after this one
  61. Complete at least 60% of this list
  62. Schedule a date night once a quarter (no kids, no computers, no distractions, just us)
  63.  Stand on the Gettysburg field at night during the anniversary
  64. Never miss a track meet
  65. Take the kids to see the ocean
  66. 24 hours with family and NO technology of any kind
  67. Update family photos
  68. Actually hang up the family photos this time
  69. Teach Waylon to swim
  70. Take kids on a movie date night
  71. Take kids bowling
  72. Visit 3 new states (layovers don't count)
  73. Build a new dog house for Miss Mina
  74. Let Kylee make supper one night for the family
  75. Make sure Waylon gets in shooting practice 3 times a week during the summer
  76. Buy Kylee a car (turns 15 this year!)
  77. Invite someone (friend or family) over for supper (we don't have company...ever and Kylee's friends don't count)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Farm Welcomes New Arrivals

It is always exciting when we get a new batch of pigs to raise. You never know quite what you are going to get. I imagine it is like how teachers feel at the beginning of each school year. It is fun to see the new little arrivals walk into their new home and check it out. We let them roam the alley way for a minute before we escort them to their new room in an effort to reduce stress. We don't like to rush the babies. 

This go-round we are excited to be receiving weaner pigs.

So, what's a weaner pig?

It's a pig in a bun...duh!

But seriously, a weaner pig is a piglet freshly weaned from his/her momma. They are just little guys and gals. They are also very, very cute!

 From the truck they go directly into the building, down a short hallway, and into the barn where they will grow...and grow...and grow...and grow until market weight.
 We just sit back and let the pigs naturally flow in and check out their new environment. We don't want to rush them or stress them. Relaxed movement, that's the key when they are still so young.

More and more file in and roam around the alley way. They sniff, snort, and get acquainted.
 Once they've had a chance to get use to the barn we move them into their very own pig pen where they get to know their roommates.
 We get to know them too.
 As you can see, they are very curious...especially when you give them something to chew on like your rubber boots, pant legs, or a nice soft leather glove...with your finger still in it. They're cute but they bite! That's okay, though, we're use to it.
Aaron's a sucker for a baby pig, especially the ones with a bit of color to them. What is funnier than seeing a manly farmer walk around holding and petting a baby pig is listening to the baby talk coming out of his mouth. But you didn't hear that from me!

This group of snouts will be with us for the next six months or so and we will raise them to a fat and sassy 280-300 pounds, approximately. It is a fun adventure and rewarding to know that these guys and gals will go on to feed thousands and thousands of people--including my family.

What would you like to know about pig farming or farmers in general?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Meaty Monday: How pork stacks up

Welcome to our new segment, Meaty Monday. Every Monday we will share something meaty with our Pork Proud peeps.

So, have you ever wondered how pork stacks up to the other meats? Well, wonder no more! A pork comparison chart will lay it all out for you so you can see exactly where pork stands, nutritionally speaking. 
Whether you are dieting, watching your cholesterol, or dearly hanging on to the last shreds of hope that you may actually go through with that forgotten New Year's resolution this chart will hopefully help.
I am somewhat partial to pork myself but I am no stranger to the meaty goodness of chicken. I also enjoy a nice cut of beef on rare occasions (no pun intended). But if you are looking for a scrumptious, lean meat that is sure to please everyone around the dinner table then look no further than that lean mean meaty machine that is oh so porklicious. 
Did I mention that I may be bias?   

Serving Sizes and Nutritional Profiles of Lean Meats
3-ounce cooked serving:
Total Fat
Fat (g)
Skinless chicken breast*
Skinless chicken leg*
Skinless chicken thigh*
Pork Tenderloin*
Pork boneless top loin chop**
Pork top loin roast*
Pork center loin chop**
Pork sirloin roast*
Pork rib chop** 
Beef eye of round *
Beef top round***
Beef tip round*
Beef top sirloin**
Beef top loin**
Beef tenderloin**
FISH (*dry heat,**moist heat)
Orange Roughy*
* Roasted,  ** Broiled,   *** Braised
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture Nutrient Database Release 18 or the 2006 Revised USDA Nutrient Data Set for Fresh Pork.