Definition: Chore

Chore-A daily routine or task.

When you are a farmer, chores are pretty much in the job description. Learning the importance of doing these chores on the farm starts early in life. In fact, chores are something that most farm kids do growing up. From feeding livestock, raking the yard, weeding the garden, to scooping hog manure from the pens, chores teach kids responsibility, hard work, and appreciation for small things in life.

In my experience, chores were something you either really enjoyed or dreaded. For example, I dreaded having to “rake” our HUGE yard after my sister mowed (partially because that adventure usually involved in an encounter with a snake or two). However, I enjoyed getting to work with my livestock-especially pigs-in the winter. When it was cold on the farm, I was responsible for checking on the pigs, feeding and watering them, and cleaning out their pens. I would pop in my headphones and the two hours of scooping poop would fly by in no time. When I wasn’t with the pigs, my sister and I would haul buckets of water down to the cattle in the barn lot next to the shed so that they could have something to drink. That was such a cold task.

While I don’t live on the family farm anymore, I have a great appreciation for those farmers who bundle up at 3 a.m. and 6 p.m. to chore-especially in the winter. Their hard work and dedication make it so others can have a yummy, affordable and diverse food supply. In fact, three of those farmers capture the essence of choring in their new “katy-parody” video Chore. Check it out:

Definition: Drought

Drought– a period of dryness especially when prolonged; specifically: one that causes extensive damage to crops or prevents their successful growth. 

If there was one word to describe the Midwestern summer of 2012, it’s drought. Everywhere I drive in Missouri the corn is dried to a crisp.

These soybean plants near St. Charles, Mo., looked alright from afar, but up close were  d-r-y.

Missouri is under a state of emergency with “97 of 114” counties in severe drought. Unfortunately that includes my home county, and St. Charles county (the beans above).

Check out how the drought is impacting other states with the U.S. drought monitor.

The crops aren’t the only thing that’s dry. Think about your lawn or other growing fields of grass. Cows don’t have anything to graze on. So farmers (including my family) are selling cattle to make up for crop they have lost to the extreme heat and minimal rain.

Harvest Public Media says so many farmers are selling cattle that some media outlets are declaring this a “Cowpocalypse” (which should actually be an Agri-Word now that I think about it). “The largest ever-drop in livestock herds.”

Luckily, crop insurance might pad that financial loss for farms. However, farms like mine might be lucky enough to break even.

And as the green grass diminishes, the market prices for these crops are increasing.

How large of a boost in prices?

According to Successful Farming, if crops are considered in the severe drought category: corn prices will reach: $ 7.50/bushel. Soybean prices: $17.25/bushel. Whoa. Talk about sky-high prices.

Not a great year for crop and livestock farmers. It’s not even a good year to run barefoot in the green, green (ok, brown and crunchy) grass.

Why should non-farm folk care? Food prices are going to be significantly higher in 2013.

Therefore, this drought has an impact on us all. No rain will save the crops this year. All we can do is hope for the best, and remain optimistic. But hey, isn’t that what farming and agriculture is all about?

Food Feature Friday: Gyro

Gyro- a meat sandwich consisting of tomatoes, onion, tzatziki sauce-all wrapped in pita bread. 

Gyros are a greek dish, served in restaurants and kitchens worldwide. Until a few weeks ago, this farm girl had never heard of such a thing.

For lunch one day, I ventured to Anthoninos, an Italian restaurant located on the Hill in St. Louis. My lunch companions quickly ordered Gyro sandwiches and hummus. I am a little embarrassed to admit I am a pretty picky eater. So the Gyro sandwich and hummus were out of my list of choices. I wasn’t in the mood for the typical pizza or pasta (my favorites-and Anthonios has AWESOME pizza), but who said I couldn’t eat just the Gyro meat? So, I tried a salad with Gyro meat. Slightly different from the sandwich contents, basic Gyro meat is beef, pork and lamb. Of those options, I chose lamb for my salad.

The texture of the meat and sweet taste blew my mind. Growing up on my farm, we ate a lot of beef, pork and chicken. Lamb was a foreign concept. Luckily it is no longer. I couldn’t get enough of my salad. It might have been the best leafy goodness I have consumed in a long time. In minutes, I had eaten all on my plate.

That’s why I had to share this word. Mind you, I haven’t actually ate the sandwich. But the meat is where it’s at as far as I am concerned. Definitely Agri-Word worthy. Will I be brave enough to try the Gyro next?

I will have to think about that one. Happy Friday everyone!

Food Feature Saturday

Since I didn’t have anything exciting to really post about Friday, I didn’t post anything.

Sorry loyal followers.

However, I did fight to visit the famous farmer’s market in Soulard on Saturday. It is one huge place!

They had EVERYTHING from fresh cherries and garden-grown broccoli, to home-grown beef and home-made pastas (St. Louis has a really great Italian area).

It all looked so good, I might have purchased some yummy sweetcorn and a watermelon…

What’s the word? You might have guessed. It’s Farmer’s Market.

Since there really is no definition of a farmer’s market on Webster, we will combine the two with a basic mathematical theory.

Farmer + Market = Farmer’s Market. 

Farmer- person who cultivates land or crops or raises animals.

Market- A public place where a market is held; especially : a place where provisions are sold at wholesale or a retail establishment usually of a specified kind.

Going to the farmer’s market is tradition. Growing up, our small North Missouri town had folks who would set up stands by the courthouse on the square and sell sweet corn, melons and sometimes jams and jellies. However, the Soulard market was much bigger than the one at home. Much, much bigger.

It is a three-day market which begins on Wednesday and runs through Saturday. I caught the tail-end of the market and there were still several vendors. I bought my corn and watermelon both for $5, which is a great deal. Grocery stores in Mo usually charge $5 for the watermelon alone.

Needless to say, I will be going back. Next time for some peaches and broccoli.

However, the Soulard market isn’t the only one in St. Louis. There are several in the area. I went to the Kirkwood market a few weeks ago and found the biggest blackberries I have seen in awhile. Blackberries taste really yummy in the summer too, you know.

Aside from the great selection of produce, a farmer’s market is a great place to meet the folks who raised the food. They can answer questions about how it is grown, where they bought the seeds and how long it took to harvest the sweet corn on the shelf.

Agri-Word wants to know if you like going to the farmer’s market and why? Share and your responses could be featured in next week’s Food Feature Friday.

Food Feature Friday

On behalf of 4th of July week and family traditions, Watermelon is the food word of the day.

Watermelon- The large melonlike fruit of a plant of the gourd family, with smooth green skin, red pulp, and watery juice.

Watermelon

Watermelons are one of my favorite summer foods (maybe of all time). I enjoyed this watermelon on the 4th of July.

Watermelon makes me think of my grandparents. They are the reason I am so crazy about the fruit. We always eat it when I visit in the summer. They know how to pick good ones, too.

At 9 a.m. my grandpa will say, “let’s go eat watermelon.” We will go out to the fridge in the garage and grandma will cut up the watermelon into fourths. We will sit outside in chairs and eat as much as we want. Buck, the old yellow lab used to eat the leftover rinds. Those were the best times.

Nonetheless, it’s a tradition in that same family to eat watermelon and fried catfish on the 4th of July, and sadly, I didn’t make it home to indulge. However, my grandparents sent me back with a nice one before I left the farm on Sunday (above).

I am glad it tastes pretty good. I am also thankful there will be more to come. Hopefully my watermelon tapping skills aren’t too rusty.

Do you have a favorite, traditional summer food? Agri-Word would like to hear from you and you might just be featured in an upcoming “Food Feature Friday.”

Definition: Oats

It has been hot, hot, hot! Brownfield says crops in our state aren’t doing so good. Convos with farmers from Kansas, Kentucky and Nebraska have told me we aren’t the only ones with that problem.

I wasn’t surprised when I went home and saw a lot of dry crops. Some of our soybeans aren’t even out of the ground. The only thing that looked somewhat decent were these oats growing in the field south of the house. I don’t know much about the crop so I can’t really tell you much.

The color sure is pretty, though. A nice change from the usual green photos.

Oats- 

  1. A cereal plant cultivated in cool climates and used for animal feed and human consumption.
  2. The edible grain of the plant below.

Food Feature Friday

I declare today Food Feature Friday. Since summer is a great time to get fresh produce from the farmer’s market (or to grow a garden of your own), every Friday I will provide food definitions, recipes and maybe dissect some of the food growing process.

To kick off Food Feature Friday #1, here’s the the hit YouTube video “I’m Farming and I Grow It.” Enjoy and happy weekend!

Definition: Bottom Line

I hate this word. For some reason it has been weighing on my mind lately. Probably because it has been so hot and my farm’s corn crop will stink this year.

Bottom Line- The line at the bottom of a financial report that shows the net profit. 2. Loss financial considerations (as cost or profit or loss).

So many people think negative about agriculture when farmers use the word “bottom line.” If you were a farmer, however, I think you would think differently.

Beautiful view of an English field.

How do you define “bottom line?”

Link

Pot-ay-to OR po-tot-o?

However you pronounce the vegetable doesn’t matter. It’s this week’s word. Webster says it (as always) well:

Potato– A South American herb of the nightshade family widely cultivated for its edible starch. 
Why do I randomly pick potato to define? I just returned from England. They produce and eat ALOT of potatoes there. Naturally, it’s on my mind. I might have just wanted to share some pictures, too.
Like any other food, it starts on the farm:

Before potatoes are planted, they look like this:

Potatoes popping up.

With the extra potatoes, the farmer feeds them to his pigs! Such a yummy snack.

Finally gets to my plate:

Roast beef and potatoes

Traditional fish and chips

It is highly likely the potatoes I ate at the University I visited and across England were locally grown.
However, I’m sorry to say I am not a potato fan. I did the best I could. However, the boys who went to England sure loved them.
Meat + Potatoes = Happy Farm Kids

May is Beef Month

Burgers, Brats and even a nice steak would be a great addition to any meal this May, because May is National Beef Month.This is a time when Beef producers take an extra minute to talk to folks about the healthy benefits of eating beef.

Now, when it comes to eating meat, I really love pork and chicken. However, days like today, when it is really warm outside and grilling is underway, I crave a burger or steak.

Naturally, I took advantage of the Missouri Legacy Beef booth on MU’s campus for a grilled burger. It hit the spot! It also gave me energy to be productive with my school work.

I looked it up online today, and cattlemen say beef provides ZIP to fuel our bodies.

Zinc

Iron

Protein

No wonder why I was so energized! There are a lot of vitamins in a serving of beef. Now if it could only energize me through another week of school…