Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Egg memories, decorations and recipes for Easter

easterOne of my favorite holidays is coming up! While the main reason we celebrate Easter is the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, what else comes to mind when you mention Easter? The egg!

A favorite memory of Easter is being at my Grams and Gramps’ house. After church and lunch, our Uncles – along with the Easter bunny – would hide eggs and candies all across the house. I really believed that the Easter bunny would help them and sneak out before we saw him!

This Easter, the American Egg Board (AEB) is breathing new life into the all-things-Easter-egg. From hard-boiling to egg decorating and recipe ideas, AEB is giving the season’s cherished hallmark an update that’s both on-trend and accessible. That’s why AEB is partnering with HGTV design couple and parents of seven, Bob and Courtney Novogratz, who are known for their pairings of modern and classic.

There are many ways to enjoy eggs this Easter. One way is by mastering your hard-boiling technique, whether you prefer the oven or the stovetop, you can find three easy steps for hard-boiling from AEB.

hard boiled eggs

easter-novogratz-3Of course, decorating eggs is a classic. Maybe you could try some new DIY egg decorating at home. A memorable method that I like is drawing on the egg with a white crayon before dying it. The Novogratz have some great decorating tips as well. I especially like their “Stick To It” decorated eggs using decorative tape. Check out all of their decorating ideas!

There are many other ways to enjoy eggs on Easter whether it’s for your breakfast before church or at lunch or supper later that day. Enjoy Easter or National Egg Salad Week recipe – visit IncredibleEgg.org/recipes to explore options or choose one of these that I’ll be trying:

Lastly, one of the most important reasons to share our love for eggs at Easter is to enjoy the benefits, such as nutrition, versatility, and affordability. There are a “Dozen Reasons to Love Eggs”!

How will you be celebrating the egg this Easter season?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ag Day, celebrating the father of the Green Revolution

For Christmas, my parents gave me a tear-off day calendar of “silly holidays”. It features “National Puppy Day”, “Harry Houdini Day”, “Penguin Day” and many more often-bizarre and unique holidays.

Today, we’re celebrating National Ag Day. While National Ag Day didn’t make my calendar of unique holidays (although my calendar today said it is Pecan Day – an ag product!), we are celebrating today and saluting American Agriculture and everyone who plays a role in it.

Another important mark on history is that today would have been Norman Borlaug’s 100th birthday.

For most of us in agriculture, just mentioning the name Norman Borlaug conjures up untold respect. For some of us, we picture personal interactions or specific times in which we learned about the accomplishment saving a billion lives through agricultural innovation advances in wheat breeding averted a mass famine. Or maybe we think about how different the world would be now without his contributions. We know that work earned him a Nobel Prize and recognition as the father of the Green Revolution.

To honor Norm’s legacy and bring attention to the importance of ag innovation in feeding a growing population, we are celebrating his legacy on social media channels using the hashtag #Borlaug100. It’s the perfect time for telling the story of our least-known – yet most remarkable – humanitarian, and to showcase how his principles and vision remain vital today.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cattle accounted by EPA for leading methane source

cattle-ghg-emissionsAgriculture just can’t get a break from the EPA. First, this past December and January, corn farmers and agribusiness alike were sending in comments to the Environmental Protection Agency to oppose EPA’s proposed changes in the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) that would affect corn-ethanol production and much of the Midwest’s economy.

Now, a draft report on greenhouse gas emissions from EPA reports that cattle primarily are “enteric fermentation,” which is the leading cause of methane emissions. Conversely, the report also shows that overall, agriculture produces a small percentage of total greenhouse gas emissions and provides significant sequestration of carbon.

According to a Drovers CattleNetwork article on the issue, the draft report attributes 25 percent of U.S. methane emissions to enteric fermentation. The next-leading source of methane emissions is natural gas systems, at 18 percent of the total. Although a small percentage of total greenhouse gas emissions, methane is considered 20 times more effective than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere. The report shows methane emissions from ruminant livestock declining in recent years due to the decline in cattle numbers. The authors also note that feeding practices can influence emissions due to enteric fermentation, as high-quality, concentrated feeds such as grain-based rations reduce methane emissions relative to forage diets.

Agricultural overall is responsible for 8.1 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to the report. Agricultural soil management is the largest source of emissions in the agricultural sector, in terms of carbon dioxide equivalents, as nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from fertilizing activities are considered approximately 300 times more powerful than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere. The report lists enteric fermentation as the second-largest agricultural source of greenhouse gas emissions, followed by manure management. 

The draft 1990-2012 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory is now available for public comment. An EPA web page includes links to each section of the report, an executive summary and instructions for submitting comments.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Technology in Agriculture

Can you imagine being a farmer in the turn of the 20th century?

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Even though the notion of literally working the dirt with your hands may seem romantic, I certainly am grateful for the technology we have today in raising food. The hours it must have taken just to do a fraction of what we can do now is hard to imagine.

imageOn my family’s ranch, we use electronic identification for our livestock. We have a wand that scans the cattle’s ear tags and we can gain information about that cow right on the spot. Yes, we still brand our cattle like they’ve done for years (it’s also the state law), but this new form of identification allows for us to know more about each animal and keep better records. This in turn creates healthier cattle and healthier food.

With the farmers that I work with, they have even more technology that is just amazing if you think about where we’ve come in 100 years! Just take irrigation as an example. Farmers used to have to manually dig canals and open up flood gates on a daily basis to water their crops. Today, they have spans of pivot irrigation systems that they can remote start from their cell phones and monitor water output per nozzle. This is just one example of innovation in agriculture.

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Hydraulics

Another innovation not unique to agriculture, but used today by most all farmers is the use of hydraulics and fluid technology. My first exposure to hydraulics was when I was a kid, sitting on the arm of the tractor seat with my dad as he moved the loader bucket up and down, and tilted it back and forth to push snow and level sand.

I once thought of that as simply the “schpttt” of air that I thought moved the bucket up and down. But soon learned that the noise was the hydraulic pump that forces fluid through the line to extend the cylinder. Then when you want to retract the cylinder, the hydraulic pump pulls the fluid back into the hydraulic tank that pulls the cylinder to a closed position. Simply, the force of fluid through the hoses forces movement of the equipment.

This form of technology is also used on our ranch with our “squeeze” cattle chutes. When an animal walks through the chute, there are a number of hydraulic levers to open and close the head gate, tighten the sides to the animal and close the end gate. The use of these chutes have made the art of working cattle safer for both the animals and those working with them.

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I could go on about how hydraulics are used in agriculture: discs, planters, chisels, rippers, balers, combine headers, augers, bale beds, hay forks – almost every piece of farm equipment uses hydraulics.

A company I’m proud to share about today on the blog who is on the cutting edge of hydraulics and accessories is Hydac. Hydac was founded in 1963 as a company for hydraulics accessories and it is today an internationally active group with over 40 overseas companies and more than 500 trade and services partners world-wide. Hydac covers all areas of fluid technology. They offer accumulators, valves, hydraulic pumps, electronics, filter systems, cooling systems, and many more; from components to complex hydraulics systems. image

Monday, February 10, 2014

Commitment to fresh food

For me, it doesn’t need to be a new year to start a new resolution or goal. But since we’re in the mindset of resolutions after just turning over the calendar, it is a good time to start one. Whether that is for your health, for fun or for your community, now is as good of a time as ever.

As a lot of people have diet and exercise in mind for their New Year’s resolutions, I have a continuous goal of eating healthy and incorporating exercise into my daily routine. Especially after just having a baby a few short months ago, this New Year is a good reminder to put that at the top of my plate.

Thanks to American agriculture and the availability of imported food, we can enjoy real, fresh foods year-round. So when I’m wanting a bowl of fresh strawberries or a banana right now in the dead of winter, I can thank a farmer – probably from a Central American country.

Eggs are another food that is real and fresh to enjoy. Most importantly to me, they are a great nutritional, power-food to enjoy after I work out. They are all-natural and provide one of the highest quality proteins of any food available. One egg provides more than six grams of protein, or 13 percent of the recommended Daily Value (DV), and nearly half is found in the yolk. They are an excellent source of choline and selenium, and a good source of high-quality protein, vitamin B12, phosphorus and riboflavin.

The best part? I get all of these nutrients packed in a filling snack or meal for only 70 calories. I also love that I can make eggs for breakfast or dinner. (Whereas when I tell my husband, “it’s a cereal-for-dinner night”, I get a sideways look!) An easy recipe (with a fancy name) that I like are Frittata’s. I can fill them with leftover veggies and ham or beef from the supper the night before.

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Simple Frittata

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 8-10 minutes
Servings: 2 to 4 servings

Ingredients
4 EGGS
1/4 cup liquid, such as milk, tomato juice, broth
1/4 tsp. dried thyme leaves OR herb of your choice
Salt and pepper
1 cup filling (see below)
2 tsp. butter OR vegetable oil

Directions
Step 1 BEAT eggs, liquid, herb and salt and pepper in medium bowl until blended. ADD filling; mix well.

Step 2 HEAT butter in 6 to 8-inch nonstick omelet pan or skillet over medium heat until melted. POUR IN egg mixture; cook over low to medium heat until eggs are almost set, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Step 3 REMOVE from heat. COVER and LET STAND until eggs are completely set and no visible liquid egg remains, 5 to 10 minutes. CUT into wedges.

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I lastly want to mention how important it is to me that farmers of all kinds are committed to their work: growing food and taking care of their land and livestock. America’s egg farmers are no different in their commitment to delivering high-quality eggs. Learn more about where eggs come from and how to help fight childhood hunger by reading more on the Good Egg Project.

Who will join me in making a commitment to eating more real, fresh foods in the coming months?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

So God Made a Farmer…extended!

It’s almost Super Bowl time. I posted mid-Super Bowl last year about my favorite commercial – you know the one, Ram Trucks’ So God Made a Farmer commercial?!

Well, I just received word that Ram Trucks put together an extended version of the wildly popular “Farmer” commercial and was just released as part of their Year of the Farmer series.  This extended version features an additional 40 seconds of Paul Harvey’s iconic speech from the 1978 Farmers of America Convention.

Just click below to watch. You won’t be disappointed.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Topics to tackle

We are 21 days into the new year and already I have a page full of issues in agriculture right now.

In no particular order:

  • 20140121_160019GMO/Biotechnology
  • Immigration reform
  • Food prices
  • Cost of production
  • COOL
  • Drones & privacy
  • Right to Farm
  • Clean Air Act targeting farmers
  • Farm Bill
  • China
  • RFS
  • Water
  • Meat Demand
  • Farming for the next generation
  • Exports
  • McDonald’s “Sustainable Beef”
  • Commodity prices
  • Nutrition
  • Beta-Agonists
  • Weather
  • Feeding the world
  • Environmental concerns
  • Food production

These are probably just the tip of the iceberg when I really sit down and delve into the list of topics. We often hear, “Agriculture’s future is so bright”. But is it really? It’s hard to think so with so many issues looming over us. I hope to make this year in agriculture brighter by offering my comments on the issues and maybe a few solutions how I see it. Look forward to some “bright issues” posts soon!