Mar 29, 2012

Is it too early to plant in March?

Not if you are planting Christmas Trees!

We have had an unusually warm and early spring in Ohio this year. For our family spring means planting time. Our family Christmas Tree Farm Kaleidoscope Farms kicks it into high gear this time of year. The over 2,300 baby seedlings have been shipped to us and are ready to be planted. When we get the trees they arrive by ground shipment and are packaged in boxes. The sooner they get in the ground the better it is for the trees survival rate. This year we planted 4 varieties such as Canaan fir, White pine, Norway Spruce and Scotch pine. Each of these little trees will be planted by our family and each tree will be planted by a Reese hand. The trees planted this year will be ready for our customers in the year 2018-2019. It takes a tree about 1 year to grow 1 foot. The different varieties grow at different rates. Pines and firs grow the fastest while the spruces take a little longer.
After the trees are planted we rely on a rain to come within the first week or so. Due to our wet weather pattern this should not be an issue this year. There are years where we have very dry spells and we lose many trees. Just like many other crops we need to have a good growing season with as few as extreme swings in the weather pattern.

Some of the trees planted were planted in a field of a clover cover crop. This was done with hopes the clover will help with weed control. For these little trees this year we will let them grow and get rooted in the ground. All of the other trees will be sheered by hand each year until our customer makes it their family Christmas Tree.

Mar 28, 2012

Campbell Parker and Cattle!

Friends of ours Tom and Susie Turner, live in a neighboring county and raise shorthorn cattle. We were going over for dinner and of course the kids love to see their cattle. When you have livestock there is always something that needs done. When people come to our house they usually know they will be put to work or do something that they would not normally do when being invited for dinner by a friend. This is something that is very common among livestock owners. We go prepared with muck boots and work clothes.

This particular day our friends were putting the final touches on a portable shed for the baby calves out in the pasture. The tractor drug the shed out into one of the fields, to provide shelter for the young calves.

One of the local FFA chapters happened to be visiting too. There were judging a few groups of heifers (female calves) to prepare for their upcoming FFA judging contest. They place the heifers in order from best to less desirable. They talk about why they made the placements they did and then listed to Dr. Turner who happens to be the retired Ohio State University Livestock Judging Team Coach. He shared with them some tips and pointers.

Campbell got right in and determined which heifer she liked the best. Ear tag 91 was Campbell’s instant pal. Parker liked the cattle but he seemed to be more interested in the 4 wheeler and figuring out how to open and close all the gates.

What better way to spend a Sunday evening on a spring day than sharing it with your family and friends looking and talking about agriculture. We ended the evening eating lasagna eventually then back out to make the evening rounds checking the calves.

Mar 19, 2012

It is National Poultry Day!

Happy National Poultry Day! Did you know: Ohio produces nearly 328 million pounds of chicken each year and is ranked 10th nationally in turkey production.  Ohio's egg, chicken and turkey farms create more than 16,850 jobs generating $385 million in earnings to the state's economy." Ohio Means AgriBusiness!

 Here are some photos of the eggs and chickens at our house. Also be sure to check out one of my CommonGround turkey farmers website!

Our hens lay brown eggs! They lay 1 egg each day. Sometimes
they get a little lazy and take a day off. 

A hen is a female chicken. They begin laying eggs around 17-21
weeks of age, depending on the breed.

This is a Barred Rock hen. She is one of the kids favorites.

Parker is in charge of the egg collecting. He is
getting better about not breaking as many eggs.
He is still in training.

Our hen house has nesting boxes for
the girls (hens) to lay their eggs.

Mar 12, 2012

Ag Week in Ohio: What a 4 year old thinks!

Happy Ohio Ag Week to all my friends. There are lots of things going on this week to celebtrate Agriculture in Ohio. Campbell and Parker love agriculture and they love to cook too. This evening Campbell asked if she could fix dinner. She chose the eggs which she just collected for the hen house, ham from farmer Brandt's pig and cheese from an unknown Dairy farmer.  She puts it all together and has a perfect easy and healthy meal. She may be the next generation of Food Network!

Campbell has been cracking eggs since she was 2, she is a pro!

What is Agriculture in the eyes of a 4 year old? "It's farming mommy. I like tractors but when I grow up I want to be a veternarian of horses."

Tada! Great meal in less than 5 minutes. Looks like
Parker even wants some!

Add in some cheese and ham.

Mar 8, 2012

Dine Original on Ag Day!

All week long in Columbus we are celebrating Dine Originals week. There are 50 signature locally owned restaurants that are being celebrated March 5-11. I find it very appropriate that this week also just happens to include National Ag Day on March 8th. There is a growing sector of our population that is more in tune with what they consume and where they buy their food and fiber. Having grown up in agriculture, I have always felt very connected to where my food comes from and the farmers who produce it. I also have a passion for supporting local business, especially when we eat outside of our home. Most of you who know me well know I love to cook, so we find ourselves eating at home most of the time. You never know what we could be eating at our house and I try to keep it fun, simple and nutritious. Here are some things I hope that you will take to heart not only today but every day that you consume food, use fibers and think about career opportunities.
• Understand how food and fiber products are produced.

• Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.

• Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.

• Acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food and fiber industry.

This is a great fact to remember: For every $100 you spend in a locally owned business, $68 remains in that community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures verses $43 spent in a national chain. These local businesses source all kinds of products from local producers:
Before Matt and I had children we led a much more fun and exciting dining life. While we were dating and through our first 5 years of marriage, we would pick a local restaurant and eat at new one each month, some of my favorites on the dine originals list are:

Shaw’s: (Lancaster) Go for the pork chop! (had our wedding rehearsal dinner there)

The Top: (Bexley) Ask for your salad a lettuce bowl with blue cheese crumbles (favorite steak house)

Alana’s: In the University District, her menu is all beautiful and divine (this was one of our date spots)

Betty’s Fine Food and Spirits: (Short North) Great spot for good old food and atmosphere

Tip Top: (Downtown) Love the Mac and Cheese (our hip and trendy down town friends got me hooked)

Tony’s: (Brewery District) I love their Sea Food Fettuccine

Columbus Brewing Company: (Brewery district) Great for drinks and Aaron White, one of the Chefs, knows how to cook with lamb!

There are so many I enjoy and more I cannot wait to try. At the top of my list to try are:

Black Creek Bistro
The Jury Room
The Inn at Cedar Falls

If you have suggestions for any of the Dine Originals restaurants let me know!

As one of my favorite bumper stickers reads” If you enjoyed a good meal today thank a farmer!” If you do not know a farmer, visit to meet lots of them. Try to remember those who own local businesses, produce your food and work in Ohio’s number one industry, not just on special days like today, but each and every day.

Mar 6, 2012

March Comes in like a Lamb

March came in like a LAMB! It is that time again to sell some lambs. Yesterday the kids and I took a trip across town and sold some lambs to Blystone Farms. Whenever I head out anywhere with a trailer full of sheep and two small children there is bound to be some type of excitement. To my surprise, we made it there and got the sheep and children unloaded without any issues.

There have been a few trips when I had to pull over the truck and trailer three times because a certain child thought it was funny to unbuckle their seat belt and then there was the time when one of the lambs jumped over the gate at the farm and was running loose, I guess he didn’t want to know how much he weighed that day.

This is a short video blog of our trip.

Once the lambs are tagged, the customer can go to the barn sale pen and pick out their sheep, goat or even steer and have it processed. Blystone Farms has a large ethnic customer base. It is very traditional in their cultures to see the animal live and then leave the farm with the processed animal. Their customers have a very deep respect for animals and their health and safety. The customer can see the animals that their family is going to eat and know that they are buying quality, healthy protein.

Once the lambs are weighed, we go inside to the new retail shop to settle up on our sales. We are paid for our lambs on a per pound basis. It is very important that we keep our lambs between a certain weight to obtain the highest dollar amount. Most customers like their lambs to be between 135-140lbs. At Blystone Farms their customer sometimes like a little smaller lamb and this is based on tradition and costs. As mentioned in the video, each lamb is given a letter based on weight. The letter of the sheep is written on a board by the sale pen and the customer knows exactly what they will pay for their animal.

You can stop by the farm, just outside of Canal Winchester, or call and let them know what you would like and they will have it just the way you want it whether it be a half of beef or a whole lamb.

The new retail meat case is now open. They have been working for months to get their retail custom shop up and running. It is really nice inside and their meat looks and taste great. If you do not wish to purchase a whole animal, you can now buy it by the individual cut. If you live in the central Ohio area you should stop by to see their family operation. They sell beef, poultry, eggs, lamb and goat. If you stop by, there may even be some of our lamb in the case.