Monthly Archives: June 2013

Its Almost Here! Where Does Your Pizza Come From Field Trip

It’s almost here!  The “Where Does Your Pizza Come From?” field trip is next Saturday, July 6th from 9:00-1:00 at the Bray Farm.  There will be goats to milk, a tractor to “drive,” wheat to grind, hay bales to climb, and a combine to ride!  The events scheduled are aimed at children entereing 2-6th grades, but this will be fun for the whole family!

And if that weren’t enough, there will be free pizza!

harvesting wheat

Directions to the Brays farm:

From the South:

From US Hwy 36 and Hwy 69 in Cameron: North on 69 1 mile.  69 Hwy curves right and EE blacktop forks off straight North.  Take EE 6 miles.  At 6 mile point EE curves right and Willow forks off straight North.  Take Willow Road North 1/2 mile and then curves to the left.  Continue on Willow for 2 miles until you get to Irwin.  On Irwin go 1/4 mile and arrive at 2966 SE Irwin Rd., Cameron MO 64429.  Enter at the 2nd Driveway.

From the North:

From Hwy 6 from Mayville going East to Weatherby: Take Irwin Rd. South (Irwin is the first gravel road west of Weatherby).  Go 2 1/2 miles to Valley.  Go right (west) on Valley 1/2 mils to Irwin.  Go left (south) on Irwin 1/2 mile to 2966 SE Irwin Rd., Cameron MO 64429.

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Our First Blue Chicken Egg!

You won’t see this in your grocery store!  This morning the kids and I were feeding goats and checking chickens when we discovered a thrilling find– our first blue chicken egg!  There really is something amazing about finding eggs in the laying boxes, even after a year of collecting them.  But finding the tiny little eggs that usually signify a hen’s first attempts is a kind of a little miracle all its own.  And this one was even more exciting because we’ve been waiting more than a year for our first blue-green Easter Egger egg!

Our first blue chicken egg!  {

Daddy theorizes Easter Egger chickens (a cross designed to lay colored eggs) taste better than the others because last year we lost three of five Easter Eggers to the neighbor’s dog and the other two were roosters.   The roos were less than useful at laying eggs 😉 but they were tasty.

Our first blue chicken egg!  {}

So we tried again this spring with five new Egger chicks and right away we noticed at least one was going to be a rooster, maybe two.  So I braced myself for the possibilities.  But the dogs have stayed away and I’m looking at a real, blue-green egg!

Our first blue chicken egg!  {

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The Whole Farm Life Thing

The Whole Farm Life Thing {}

I didn’t grow up a farm girl.  Not even close.  So I’m kind of making the whole farm life thing up as I go along.  Like the goats I brought home a month ago.  One of my goals was to get Brett involved in 4-H so he could show the goats and maybe some sheep.  Little details– I didn’t even know how old you had to be to join 4-H.  But what better way to find out than just to show up at the county 4-H livestock fair and question poor, unsuspecting participants!

The Whole Farm Life Thing {}

We walked around and looked interested and sure enough, several families stopped to talk with us.  (Love this about farm families!)  We found out about the “Clover” program which judges showmanship of the kids rather than the characteristics of the animals.  Its for kids 8 and under, so that will be perfect for us!


Although they spent most of their time playing in a pile of sand behind the bleachers, Brett and Anna also watched a few classes go through the judging process.  Brett is all excited about teaching our goats how to stand properly for a judge.  He wants to start tomorrow.  I’m counting on YouTube to come through for me on this.  Feel free to leave advise in the comments!!

The Whole Farm Life Thing {} The Whole Farm Life Thing {}

Then we ate jumbo hot dogs (fair requirement I’m pretty sure) and played in the sand some more before coming home to leave a massive ring in the bathtub.

This farm life really grows on you.

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My Meeting with Monsanto’s President

On Thursday of this past week my husband Brian and I had the opportunity to meet Monsanto’s President and CCO, Brett Begemann, as a part of the Agriculture Leaders of Tomorrow program.  We also toured the research facility in St. Louis, MO and got to take a peek behind the scenes at the greenhouses and test chambers.

My Meeting with Monsanto President

Mr. Begemann talked with us for a while about Monsanto’s acquisition of 20/20, the company that make the precision planting equipment you’ve seen us use on the blog.

If you are a regular follower I’d like to explain now that this post will take on a bit of a different flavor.  Usually I post information suitable for children—this might be information you as an adult read, then teach to the children in your life as you see fit.

Secondly, I’m writing this article to inform you.  You are free to believe anything you like.  If you disagree with me we don’t have to stop being friends.

AND I’m not being paid by anyone or any of that.  Soooo, let’s begin!

Thursday afternoon we toured the Monsanto research facility in St. Louis, MO.  In less than two hours we were briefed on the most advanced technology in the world.  It was amazing.  And yes, some of it was overwhelming.

It started with a basic understanding of DNA.  We’ve probably all seen pictures of the double helix strand.

My meeting with Monsanto President

All the information in a cell is recorded here in a code of ATs and GCs.   Its actually a lot like the binary system of 0s and 1s your computer understands.

In 2003 Scientists completed the Human Genome Project, which was a massive effort to read all these codes, record them, and share the information with the private sector.  This created a map of the ATs and GCs in human DNA.  The order of these codes determine what proteins are produced.  Each protein does a specific job, such as determining your eye color or hair texture.  Read this sort-of basic explanation of genetics from Wikipedia if you’d like more in-depth information!

Scientists have similarly mapped the DNA of some plants.  They have identified certain proteins and the jobs they do within the plant.  At the research facility we watched a presentation that explained the arrangement of proteins as a neighborhood.

My Meeting with Monsanto President

Each strand is a street and on each street are houses for the proteins.  Not every lot has a protein house, however.  Scientists used to think these were empty spaces and filled with “junk” but now they understand how much they don’t understand because the data in these empty lots seems to be very important to turning the proteins on and off.  For example, your DNA is the same in every cell.  But only the DNA that causes your eyes to be blue is actually “on” in your eyes.  Your skin is not blue, neither is your hair.  But that information is still in every skin cell, its just “off.”

So scientists know some proteins’ job is to control the yield of a plant.  If they can place this protein next to the correct empty house the yield of the plant increases!

The thing that struck me here was that DNA is different in every plant, just like it is in every person.  We all have a different combination of proteins that make us the different people we are.  At some point the DNA randomly goes together and you create an albino person.  At some point the DNA randomly goes together and my dark-haired husband and I have a red-haired son.  At some point the DNA can form a plant that yields like crazy.  But you really just have to get lucky.

Modifying the plant on purpose allows you to put proteins where you want them instead of waiting and hoping they will arrange themselves on accident.  

The odds of nature creating a seed with the exact combination you want are infinitesimal.  Just my opinion, but genetic modification doesn’t seem so scary when I realized it could have happened.   Not would have, but could have.  But I view this as learning from God’s design and using it to be better stewards of the land, better stewards of our money, and better human beings to the millions of starving people in this world.  But more on that later…

So some of our corn, soybeans, beets, etc., are modified for better yield, for stronger stalks that don’t fall down in a storm, for drought tolerance, and some are modified for herbicide tolerance.  That’s Round-Up.

My Meeting with Monsanto President

So here again our guide helped me understand what was really going on in a Round Up ready soybean.

The goal is to kill all plants in a field expect soybeans (or whatever you planted).  How do you kill a plant?  Well, Brett and I did an experiment on that back in our Plant Thematic Unit.  Plants need air, water, nutrients, and sunlight.  And while you can’t really control those in a field, sunlight is actually used for the process of photosynthesis which involves, you guessed it, proteins.  The chemicals in Round Up are so specifically designed that they can target the exact protein needed for photosynthesis.  (Actually its the messenger.  It kills the messenger.  I find this funny.  But irrelevant.  Right.)  The Round Up ready plant genes are relocated to new housing to protect their photosynthesis process.  Now farmers can plant more food in less space because instead of needing to drive equipment into the field to till the weeds under, they can spray Round Up.  Plus sensitive plants like corn produce lots more without the competition weeds provided.  And unless you have photosynthesizing genes in your DNA, Round Up isn’t a human problem.*

Furthermore, it is this amazing information about proteins that is being used to find a cure for Alzheimer’s, cancer, Asperger’s, so much more.  I find it interesting that we cheer these projects, yet decry GMOs.

Maybe it is because the effects of cancer are felt here, in our own backyard.  Hunger isn’t an issue we deal with in the US.  At least, it isn’t today.  Currently our own hunger needs stem more from a lack of money than a lack of food.  It just isn’t true everywhere you go.

But maybe we’ll be singing a different tune in another 30-40 years, because today’s population of 7 billion is expected to reach 9 billion in that short of a time frame.  In the next few decades farmers will need to produce more food than ever before.  They will do this with less land than we farm now and probably less water.  They will do this or we will be hungry.



**I welcome all comments, but please be courteous to all.  I will remove any rude or hurtful replies.  Also, this is a blog for children, so please keep it clean.

*I will be posting more about our meeting soon, but please understand there is SO MUCH to say about GMOs and Monsanto I could not possibly cover it all, especially in one post.   🙂

Categories: Science, Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Spring Growth

The farm at springtime  {}

“Baby” chicks, almost grown!

The farm at springtime  {}

Red Delicious apples

The farm at springtime  {}

Abundant spring rains have been good for my roses!

The farm at springtime  {}

Hoping to harvest a couple of peaches.

The farm at springtime  {}

Beans coming up through the rye grass

The farm at springtime  {}

Last night’s beautiful sunset!

Categories: Animals | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

A Field Trip to a Farm

If you’re going to take a field trip, why not visit a field?!  DeKalb county Farm Bureau is once again sponsoring “Where Does Your Pizza Come From?” field trip to the farm!  Last year we had a lot of fun, but it rained so that put a damper on our plans.  Well, if at first you don’t succeed… we’re doing it again!

where does your pizza come from

If you can make the journey to the Cameron, Missouri area save Saturday, July 6th for a day to ride in the combine as it harvests wheat, milk a goat at learn how to make mozzarella cheese, pet beef cows, and get dirty!  We’ll be harvesting at the Bray’s farm– directions will be available soon!!

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