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Posts Tagged With: food

Resolve to Learn about Your Food in the New Year

The New Year is a great time to set goals for yourself and if being healthier isn’t something you need to work on, well, that would make you pretty awesome.  For the rest of us, and yeah, that’s me and my family, learning about your food can seem like an overwhelming task.  So I’ll be taking the month of January to break down some of the major concerns about the food you eat.  No diet plan, no supplements to buy, just straight-forward knowledge.

I’m ready to go with posts about:

Before we jump off the deep end, lets stick our toes in with a few facts.

I write about me, my farm, my family.  Every farmer has his own story.

Regardless of how different they may be, 97% of of the farms in the US are owned by families.  Corporations own just 3%.  We are men, women, American Indian, Hispanic, Latino, African American, big, small, organic, conventional, livestock, crop, first generation, fifth generation, moms, dads, children, and grandchildren.

Nothing I could ever write would encompass us all.  What works on my farm won’t help my neighbor.  What is true for my family isn’t the same for a potato grower in Idaho.  And for all the thousands of farmers holding to good old American values there are those who don’t.  But that’s not farmers, that’s people.

In fact I can only think of two things we have in common.  The first is that there are just over 3 million of us in the US.  That’s 2% of the population.  We are a minority.

The second is that we eat.  We eat the food we grow.  We feed it to our children.  The choices we make on our farms are important to us, just like they are to you.

Because there aren’t many of us you might not know a farmer.  Maybe you haven’t been on a farm since you were a kid, or maybe never at all.  There is a 98% chance your family doesn’t grow the food we eat.

My goal is to share what we do and to help you make choices about the food you buy.  I want to show you the decisions we make and why we make them.  And no more than I can tell my neighbor what is best for his farm, I’m not here to tell you what is best for your family.

But knowledge is power.  So resolve to learn about your food in the new year.

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Categories: Food | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meet a Turkey Farmer!

This post ranked in the top five of last year’s favorites, so today I’m revisiting the guest post written by a friend who raises turkeys!  With Thanksgiving just around the corner don’t forget to be thankful for the farmers who grew what’s on that table!

Hello! We are Josh, Jackie and Zane Witte. We raise cattle and turkeys. We raise approximately four flocks of 16,000 turkeys a year. Today, we are going to be telling you how the turkey that you eat on Thanksgiving is raised.

Meet a turkey farmer! This family shows you how they raise turkeys on their family farm!

We raise turkeys for Cargill Meat Solutions. In the grocery store you can look for the label Honeysuckle White.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

The operation is a little confusing. We own the farm and barns that the birds are raised in but we don’t own the turkeys. Cargill supplies us with the turkeys, feed, and other needs, while we supply the labor to take care of the birds. We have a brooder house where the baby turkeys- or poults, stay for the first 6 weeks of their lives. From there, the birds are moved to our grow-out barn where they remain until around 16 weeks of age. At that point, Cargill comes to get the birds for processing. Our turkeys can become anything from ground turkey to your typical Thanksgiving Day turkey. Let’s look at the process a little more, shall we?

Poults require a certain type of care to get the best start possible. We set up cardboard pens that will keep the birds close to the ‘brood stoves’ (heaters). If the birds get too far from the heaters and get cold, they will huddle together to get warm and accidently smother each other. We have to keep the barn at 90 degrees for the poults so we use a lot of propane! The heaters are the small circular shapes hanging from the ceiling.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm

The poults are delivered on a climate controlled truck, mostly in the early morning and at night. The truck is filled with boxes of turkeys. We load the boxes off the truck and onto our pickup trucks. Our brooder house is 440 feet long so we use the trucks to drive down the center of the barn.

turkey truck 1

turkey truck 2

Then it’s time to get the turkeys settled in for their stay on our farm. Remember those boxes of poults? The yellow boxes hold 100 baby turkeys each.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

We have to carefully take each turkey out of the boxes and into their new homes. We are blessed to have great family and friends who come out to help. Aunt Jess and Zane are unloading the poults by hand.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

When the poults are adjusting to their new life, we have to sort of teach them how to eat. You know the old adage that turkeys are dumb? Well, guess what, they really are. Josh’s grandparents used to raise range turkeys, and the birds would actually drown themselves from looking at the sky during a rainstorm. (Which is one of the reasons barns are used. Being free-range isn’t all its cracked up to be by commercials!) At any rate, we have to trick them into eating and drinking.

Fun Farm Fact: Turkeys are attracted to the color green. Thank me later when you win lots of money on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? So we put green colored feed on top of their normal feed and their water comes out of a green nipple. The turkeys instinctively peck at the green and then get the taste for food and water. Pretty cool, huh?

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

As the poults get used to their surroundings, they spread out a little but for the most part like to stay close together for warmth. (The big red thing in the middle is another type of waterer that they use when they get older).

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

They also have to get used to our little turkey wrangler.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

When the poults get older and bigger, we remove the cardboard pens and let them have free run of the barn.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm

Eventually, the turkeys run out of room in the brooder house so we have to move them to the 770 foot long grow-out barn. The barns are connected with an alley that the birds will walk through. This is the turkeys’ new home until they are big enough for processing. Our birds weigh around 22 pounds when they leave our farm.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

After the birds leave it’s time to clean out the barns. I didn’t photograph this because it’s a nasty job. We take out all the old litter and manure and spread it on our cattle pasture. Turkey manure is an excellent fertilizer so whatever litter we don’t use, we sell to local crop farmers. Then it is time to start the whole process over again!

I hope you have enjoyed your peek into the life of turkey farming. Be sure to remember where all of your Thanksgiving meal comes from and thank a farmer! Happy Thanksgiving from Witte Farms!

Categories: Animals, Food | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Quick and Easy Way to Link Your Kids to Agriculture

I only recently learned about this quick and easy way to link you kiddos to agriculture.  And when I say quick and easy, I mean really easy, which is my favorite kind. 🙂

All you need is a milk jug and Internet access.

Simple way to see where your milk is processed!

I’ve got Hiland and the Target brand in my fridge right now.

The website, www.whereismymilkfrom.com provides a space to enter the number printed on the milk jug, and viola! up pops the exact location your milk was processed!  This will work with other dairy products too, like sour cream or yogurt.  Anyone in your family picky about milk brands?  Try entering numbers from different brands.   You might be surprised at the results!  In my area milk from Hy-Vee, Walk-Mart, Cameron Mart and Target all come from the same place!

How to find out where your milk came from!

You’ll need the 4-5 digit number printed near the expiration date.

If your kids really get into this project try some less common milk products, like canned milk.  These can travel farther and fewer processors package them, so the results can pull up some fun, far off places– like Iowa! 🙂

Leave me a comment, where does your milk come from?

 

*For teachers: Common Core Standards Language Arts, CCS.ELA.RI.4.3: RI.4.4: RI4.5: RF.4.3 and Next Generation Science Standards: Earth Systems: 5-ESS3-1

Categories: Homeschool, Science | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Three Things Christians Should Know About the Food Controversy

Recently faith has entered the field of food. I think this is a good thing; faith belongs in every aspect of our lives. What I’m not so sure about, however, is that we’re drawing the right conclusions. Its been suggested that vegetarianism is what God would have you do, or being merciful applies just as much to your neighbor as it does to his dog. But before you make up your mind about the relationship between man and animal, here are three things Christians should know.

What Christians need to know about the food controversy

1.) God made everything for a reason.

Nothing was an accident. Nothing was superfluous.

I like how the scripture in 1Timothy 4:4 explains it. “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving.”

The verse just before talks about someone telling you not to eat meat and responds with: “which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”

And if you’d like to hear it worded, well… a little stronger just start at the beginning of that chapter! For now I think these verses make my point.

2.) God sent his son to die for mankind.

I don’t have a scripture reference for this one because there isn’t one. Animals, trees, rocks: God didn’t so love them and send his only son so they may have enteral life.

In fact it was people He created in his own image and likeness. Genesis 1:25. Could there be a higher honor? He set them apart, made them special. He made me and you to be children of The King.

Christ was the sacrificial lamb, but I don’t read that he died for sheep.

Clearly, God doesn’t see us the same.

Three things Christians should know abou the food controversy

photo credit: fusky via photopin cc

3.) God gave men dominion over His creation.

Actually it’s the very next verse after the “made in his image” paragraph in Genesis 1:26. And yes, I’m aware others far more scholarly than myself have written entire books on the subject of dominion. The word is negative. It means things like prevail against, reign, rule over.

Its just that the other side of this ruling business is responsibility. We are in charge of the animals God gave to our care and they are given to us for our use. But like the servants who were given 1, 5, and 10 talents, we will be accountable for how we care for what has been given to us.

History has proved there will always be those who look for something weaker to put down so they can pull themselves up. Animals can be an easy target.

Where real cruelty lies it should be eradicated.

But don’t confuse cruelty with animal agriculture. The pictures you see in the magazines while you wait in the grocery store checkout line are the extremes and a poorly worded headline can make us all look bad. Just remember, farmers are as outraged by abuses as you are.

What Christians need to know about the food controversy

photo credit: Walmart Corporate via photopin cc

Actually the vast majority of livestock producers understand– dominion and responsibility are just opposite sides of the same coin.
I’m certain you can make up your own mind on the food controversies that are part of our daily diet of conversation. If your opinion differs from mine, I’m okay with that.

But go ahead, bring your faith into the dining room.

Categories: Animals | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Farm to Store

Celebrating Thank a Farmer week is done like most American holidays– it lasts a whole week and has a lot to do with food!  Saturday was the pancake breakfast, then raffling off a grocery store gift certificate, and, new this year, we parked a tractor at the local store!

Thank a Farmer

Thank a Farmer and Thank Early’s Tractor Dealership!

Thanks to the tractor dealership in town for letting us use one of theirs since it was already clean and only a few blocks from the store!  Tractors generally go less than 25/mph, so that’s pretty helpful!  Thanks to the county Farm Bureau board members who volunteer their time to set up these functions.  Thanks to the grocery stores that work with and support the farming community.  And of course, thanks to the farmers who are responsible from everything in those stores from the bananas to the macaroni and cheese to the plastic used to package it all!

Check in tomorrow for the next Thank a Farmer post.  We’re thanking Daddy for something pretty exciting!

Categories: Food | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Strike is Over!

Both parties have been appeased! The strike is finally over!

No, no bus drivers or teachers here on the farm, just some disgruntled chickens. They wanted more daylight. I told them they’d have to take that up with a higher authority. But finally, after months of waiting, the workers are back.

20140127-113722.jpg

I think the trouble started when my early spring chicks began to molt in their first year of life. Most chickens molt during their second fall. Well, these ladies didn’t begin molting until after Thanksgiving. Which I told them was a bad decision, but do chickens ever listen?!?!

20140127-114008.jpg

At least they have now made a comeback. I’m not getting a lot of eggs at this point but I didn’t expect that in January anyway.

Now the biggest problem is collecting them from the coop before they freeze!

Categories: Animals | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Little Help Holiday Recipe

Easy.  Fast.  Kid-Friendly.  Healthy.  Best snack ever!

I kid you not, the nutritionist at Hy-Vee said you could eat as much of this chocolate as you want.  So of course I bought the two ingredients necessary to make this snack, and upon discovering my children can make this almost completely on their own, we have made it for five different events.

It’s nutritious, fast, easy and kid-friendly.

Best. snack. ever.

First, buy chocolate.  Dark chocolate.

And while you’re at the store, get those little clementine oranges.  Some of you probably know them as Cuties.  And get diapers.  And probably eggs and maybe shampoo.  Just trying to help…

Easy.  Fast.  Kid-Friendly.  Healthy.  Best snack ever!

Melt the chocolate in a double broiler, microwave, or in a glass measuring cup hooked to the side of a pot by its handle for your own double-broiler-in-a-pinch.  Whatever works for you.  Just remember that water is the enemy of melted chocolate so make sure whatever you use is perfectly dry and that no water can splash into it while you’re working.  If you get water in the chocolate you will need to throw it out, which is tragic to say the least.

Then spread out a sheet of wax paper, peel the clementines, and remove the glass from the hot water if you are letting your kiddos do this.

Next, dip!

Easy.  Fast.  Kid-Friendly.  Healthy.  Best snack ever! Easy.  Fast.  Kid-Friendly.  Healthy.  Best snack ever!

They take an hour or so to set up on the counter, but if you put them in the fridge or in your freezing cold garage, they’ll be ready in minutes!

Categories: Family, Food | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Meet a Turkey Farmer!

I’m so excited about today’s post!  Friends of our who raise turkeys on their family farm are guest posting today!  One of the birds in Jackie’s photos below might very well be the turkey your family eats on Thanksgiving day.  How cool is that?!

Hello! We are Josh, Jackie and Zane Witte. We raise cattle and turkeys. We raise approximately four flocks of 16,000 turkeys a year. Today, we are going to be telling you how the turkey that you eat on Thanksgiving is raised.

Meet a turkey farmer!  This family shows you how they raise turkeys on their family farm!

We raise turkeys for Cargill Meat Solutions. In the grocery store you can look for the label Honeysuckle White.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

The operation is a little confusing. We own the farm and barns that the birds are raised in but we don’t own the turkeys. Cargill supplies us with the turkeys, feed, and other needs, while we supply the labor to take care of the birds. We have a brooder house where the baby turkeys- or poults, stay for the first 6 weeks of their lives. From there, the birds are moved to our grow-out barn where they remain until around 16 weeks of age. At that point, Cargill comes to get the birds for processing. Our turkeys can become anything from ground turkey to your typical Thanksgiving Day turkey. Let’s look at the process a little more, shall we?

Poults require a certain type of care to get the best start possible. We set up cardboard pens that will keep the birds close to the ‘brood stoves’ (heaters). If the birds get too far from the heaters and get cold, they will huddle together to get warm and accidently smother each other. We have to keep the barn at 90 degrees for the poults so we use a lot of propane! The heaters are the small circular shapes hanging from the ceiling.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm

The poults are delivered on a climate controlled truck, mostly in the early morning and at night. The truck is filled with boxes of turkeys. We load the boxes off the truck and onto our pickup trucks. Our brooder house is 440 feet long so we use the trucks to drive down the center of the barn.

turkey truck 1 turkey truck 2

Then it’s time to get the turkeys settled in for their stay on our farm. Remember those boxes of poults? The yellow boxes hold 100 baby turkeys each.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

We have to carefully take each turkey out of the boxes and into their new homes. We are blessed to have great family and friends who come out to help. Aunt Jess and Zane are unloading the poults by hand.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

When the poults are adjusting to their new life, we have to sort of teach them how to eat. You know the old adage that turkeys are dumb? Well, guess what, they really are. Josh’s grandparents used to raise range turkeys, and the birds would actually drown themselves from looking at the sky during a rainstorm.  (Which is one of the reasons barns are used.  Being free-range isn’t all its cracked up to be by commercials!) At any rate, we have to trick them into eating and drinking.

Fun Farm Fact: Turkeys are attracted to the color green. Thank me later when you win lots of money on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? So we put green colored feed on top of their normal feed and their water comes out of a green nipple. The turkeys instinctively peck at the green and then get the taste for food and water. Pretty cool, huh?

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm! This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

As the poults get used to their surroundings, they spread out a little but for the most part like to stay close together for warmth.  (The big red thing in the middle is another type of waterer that they use when they get older).

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm! This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

They also have to get used to our little turkey wrangler.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

When the poults get older and bigger, we remove the cardboard pens and let them have free run of the barn.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm

Eventually, the turkeys run out of room in the brooder house so we have to move them to the 770 foot long grow-out barn. The barns are connected with an alley that the birds will walk through. This is the turkeys’ new home until they are big enough for processing. Our birds weigh around 22 pounds when they leave our farm.

This family shares how they raise Thanksgiving turkeys on their family farm!

After the birds leave it’s time to clean out the barns. I didn’t photograph this because it’s a nasty job.  We take out all the old litter and manure and spread it on our cattle pasture. Turkey manure is an excellent fertilizer so whatever litter we don’t use, we sell to local crop farmers. Then it is time to start the whole process over again!

I hope you have enjoyed your peek into the life of turkey farming. Be sure to remember where all of your Thanksgiving meal comes from and thank a farmer!  Happy Thanksgiving from Witte Farms!

Categories: Animals | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Thankful for the Harvest

I love Thanksgiving!  So many things to be thankful for!  I have a happy, healthy family, warm home, good friends, AND… lots of food on my table!  In a time set aside for being grateful for a bounteous harvest, I think it also makes sense to be thankful for those who grew that harvest!

Thankful for the farmers that grew the harvest!  {DaddysTractor.com}

This is the wheat harvest on our farm.

Everything on your Thanksgiving table, from yams to cranberries to the turkey itself was grown by a farmer.  Actually, most everything on your table everyday was grown by a farmer.  Fruit Loops?  Yep.  Cream cheese?  Yep.  Popcorn, salad dressing, crackers, ice cream, maybe even some of the ingredients in hot dogs. 😉

Thankful for the farmers that grew the harvest!  {DaddysTractor.com}

This is Daddy hauling corn to the elevator. Just one piece in the grand scheme of groceries!

And besides all that, did you know America has the safest food supply on the planet?  Ever.

I might check to see if I’m choosing all beef hot dogs, but I’ve never worried that I’m actually purchasing horse meat instead.  I get annoyed if the milk I buy is too close to its expiration date but I don’t worry that it has been watered down before it lands in my cart.  I don’t wonder what was processed in the plant along with my Cheerios and I trust that the nutrition facts printed on labels are actual facts.

Yes, there are recalls from time to time.  A few people each year may even die from food disease.  This is heartbreaking.  It’s also a big deal.  Why?  Because it’s so rare.

Thankful for the farmers that grew the harvest!  {DaddysTractor.com}

This is a soybean plant, safely growing on Marshall farms!

Guess what else.  America also has one of the most abundant food supplies in the world.  Ever.

Sure, the stores sell out of milk a few hours before a snow storm moves in.  Oh the horror.  I’ve gotten frustrated because the baby food options were sadly lacking at a small Wal-Mart.  My life is so tough.  The point is you’re not likely planning back-up menu options just in case all of the meat has sold out for the day.  Instead you’re more likely to walk up to the produce counter and be overwhelmed at the sheer number of choices!

Thankful for the farmers that grew the harvest!  {DaddysTractor.com}

Harvesting corn which will then be used to make food products like corn starch!

And its affordable.

According to the USDA-ERS, consumers in the US spend about 10% of their disposable income on food.  That means we have 90% to spend on whatever else we like!  In Italy they spend about 14% of their income on food, but the Chinese spend 33% and in Pakistan it’s a whopping 46%!  Maybe the price of beef isn’t as bad as I thought!

So yes, I’m thankful for pumpkin pie and yeast rolls and green bean casserole.  But I’m also thankful for the farmers of this country who grow the safest, most abundant, most affordable food on the planet.  And I’m thankful for it every day of the year.

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

A Day at the Farm

So much fun!  Our weekend adventure of harvesting wheat and learning about where the ingredients in our pizza come from was a HUGE success!  Thanks so much to the Brays for hosting this awesome event; their farm was perfect.

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

FSA brought coloring books and rulers.

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

Our Farm Bureau agent helped kids plant their own seeds.

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

This is me, showing how the harvested wheat is turned into flour.

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

Grinding wheat with electricity was much easier than doing it by hand!

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

These are beef cows for the hamburger toppings!

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

And Nubian milk goats for making the mozzarella cheese.

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

There was a straw maze.

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

The sensory bin filled with wheat to play in!

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

Riding in the combine was probably the best part!

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

Caroline waits for her turn to ride and sports a “Thank a Farmer” sticker!

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

Finally, its Carson’s turn!

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

Is this machine way cool or what?!

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

The stalks from the wheat are baled into straw. These huge bales are being sold to the highway dept. to be used to keep dirt in place while workers fix roads.

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

All right, maybe the pizza was the best part! Yummy!

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

Pepperoni comes from hogs!

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

Lovin’ the cheese!

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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